Well, today is Martin Luther King Jr’s day of remembrance. It was meant to remember a man who fought hard to change America for all. Most people think of him only as a man who fought for racial equality, and was shot for his fight for racial equality.
In truth, his fight was much more. Near the end of his all too short career/fight/life he was changing his focus. For him, civil rights was not just about equality between races, but equality for all. Civil rights and racial equality would remain important, but he would add to his ideals civil rights and equality for the poor as well. The problems he saw in America were not just black and white, and he was going to organize his resources and lead a “poor people’s revolution” on behalf of those Americans who couldn’t make ends meet on the land of plenty. In short, he was ready to fight for everybody.
Most people accept Martin Luther King jr. as a hero out of some politically correct obligation ( if only there were a magnetic ribbon we could buy for this cause too). Then they either take the day off or brood about not being able to take the day off. But we, as a society, have forgotten the real meaning of what it means to be a hero. Hero’s don’t just take the stands we normally can’t or won’t. They don’t just save the day against an enemy too strong for us. A hero transforms. They transform themselves to become the hero, then they try to transform the world around them. They don’t just take stands and fight for good, they attempt to inspire and challenge others to take stands and fight for the good as well. Dr. King took on this role, and performed it well, and we killed him for it.
There is a sad truth here in that we kill our heroes. We happily accept any good that can be done for us, and are willing to make token sacrifices in how we express ourselves in public. But when asked to make a change for the better, when the hero threatens our comfortable status quo, we kill him, and when he’s gone, we do a few revisions and elevate him again. He’s no longer around to argue any changes made.
So enjoy your day off. Listen to replayed speeches and then go skiing. But if this day or man means anything to you, then show it by making the efforts and changes that you are challenged to make. Make a commitment and take an initiative to transform the society yourself. If you truly believe he’s a hero, answer his challenge and let his final job be completed through you.