Monday, January 18, 2010

Honoring Dr. King's Message

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged us all to be better, to think better. His ideas were so ahead of his time that he lost his life over them, at the hand of others who acted in fear of the changes that his thoughts might bring about. Dr. King helped us progress by shining light to drive out darkness.

Each of us has come to this world as light, with the purpose of illuminating the darkness. This is why humans progress - because we know that is our purpose. Those individuals like Dr. King, who are willing to be that light against the odds, help us to be better people, help us to love one another in actions rather than just in words. It is interesting to me that those who opposed Dr. King did so very much in the name of God and Christianity, quoting Biblical scripture to justify their actions. In hindsight, most of us can see that was in error, yet so many well meaning people do the same thing today in justifying their hatred.

Recently, I saw a declaration that "the Bible is not PC" (meaning Politically Correct). I pondered that statement, knowing that the bearer of the message was probably meaning to convey that since the Bible did not use "PC" terms, then we should never consider them. It was intended to be a clever "buzz statement" that I'm certain has been repeated over and over by many who think that it demonstrates their dedication to the Bible and to God.

Then I thought about the Bible's politics...the ideas of the times were that women were essentially worthless, wealthy men held all the rights and power, it was acceptable to own human beings in slavery, or to sell your daughter into slavery...the poor and downtrodden were expected to remain that way. Perhaps the Bible SHOULD HAVE BEEN more politically correct, but since the powerful had the ability to filter and control its message, why would they want to change their established ways? Perhaps Jesus's messages were an attempt to balance those horrid inequities through softer words of love and compassion...just as good (unextreme) political correctness seeks to do. And while I would agree that sometimes PC gets a little silly or extremist, and sometimes becomes more about winning political favor, the premise behind it might be illuminating. Personally, I don't want to say things that are hurtful or offensive to others, even if I didn't mean them that way.

Judgment is a dark emotion. When we look at others as less than us, or decide that only our way is right, we are spreading darkness, not light. We are not illuminating their goodness or driving away the darkness, rather we are contributing to it. When we become callous in our ways and resist change, we are neither enlightened nor enlightening. Just as it only takes a small amount of light to illuminate a dark room so that we can see our way, it only takes a small amount of light - a few committed people - to illuminate the world. When we do this collectively, there will be no darkness. Just as God declared, "Let there be light," we can declare, "Let ME be light," and choose to spread unconditional love.

On this day of remembering Dr. King's contributions, decide how you can spread light. Are you willing to challenge old accepted ways of thinking in order to make way for new illuminations - as not only King did, but as Jesus did? Can you risk disdain from others in order to seek or deliver a new message, encouraging love and freedom rather than fear and control?

See others with love rather than judgment, notice good qualities rather than bad, give up your need to be RIGHT in exchange for a need to be LIGHT, and you will contribute to driving out darkness. Be the light amongst the darkness, the love amongst the hate, the hope amongst the despair, the calm amongst the turmoil. It is your purpose and where you will find peace and joy.

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