On January 20, the nation will pause to honor the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who would have turned 91 this week. In the late 1950’s and 1960’s he served as an important motivator of the dramatic civil rights movement of that era. It was a time of change, but hatred, racism and brutality were still the ugly reality. Despite these difficulties, Rev. King still spoke in hope of the dream of full civil and political rights for all Americans. And, he believed that when that elusive reward came, it would be the product of commitment, willpower, and desire, common characteristics of the human spirit in all people in all times.
Sadly, our own time is marked by anger, hostility, and the inability to even listen to viewpoints differing from our own. Reverend King’s hopeful message remains as relevant today as it was in his time. As a preacher of the gospel, he saw the Christian message as a way forward; its call to unconditional love and acceptance of the neighbor was the reason for hope that would lead our nation to a better day.
On this day of remembrance, take heart that Reverend King’s teaching can help transform the hostilities of today, transforming gloom into “the exuberant gladness of the new age” and bringing about “miracles in the hearts of men.” Conflict and disagreement are inevitable, but the Gospel is greater. As Reverend King did before us, let us learn from the teachings of Jesus to seek out the good in each other and bring healing, understanding, and reconciliation to our world.