A couple years ago I read an article about how the pro-life movement of today has picked up the banner of civil and human rights from Dr. King. Today, one of the most extreme abuses (and there are MANY) of human rights is the legal, encouraged, blatant killing of unborn children in their mothers' wombs. Many who are pro-abortion claim the child in the womb is actually not a human being. But even science tells us that life begins at conception! Then there are those whose consciences have become so eroded that they know it's a child - a human being, though tiny - and support abortion anyway. Heartless and jaded, they couldn't care less about the "fetus" killed in the "termination of a pregnancy." What's more is that minorities are targeted. (The poor, too.) A Black child in the U.S. has a 50% chance of either being aborted or born. That means 1 out of 2 Black children is aborted.
And Dr. King fought and died for their right to be considered equal human beings.
It's not just Blacks. It's Hispanics and the poor and impoverished in general. Drive around a city one day, and you'll find more "women's care clinics" (misnomer if there ever was one) and Planned Parenthoods in the poor parts of town, which are often where racial minority populations are highest. And P.P. had a racist, bigoted founder. Let's just say they are continuing her legacy well. This is not to say Planned Parenthood does not have clinics in wealthy parts of town or that white women do not get abortions. They do. But the percentages are higher for the poor and minorities.
And don't even get me started on how we are failing our black brothers with regards to their upbringing and life choices. They are far more likely to land in jail for various crimes, mostly drugs and theft, I bet (and many no doubt are innocent, too, but many are indeed guilty) than whites. One in every 20 black men over the age of 18 is in a state or federal prison. And these same men leave their families, or some are then taken away from their families to jail, and then those children, especially those boys, grow up, and the vicious cycle repeats.
God, what do we do???? Something must be done.
I read something earlier today about someone saying we should not sanitize Dr. King. For in sanitizing him, his legacy, and his message, we weaken it, "dumb it down," strip it of its power and relevance and the inherent challenge it poses to us.
Sounds like Christ to me. We sanitize Christ, make him just a "kind teacher" or "visionary" or "prophet" who had "nice ideals." He loses every ounce of His importance for us, then. He is none of those things. He is the Son of God, Christ the King. Our Saviour. Certainly, yes, He is also a teacher, a Divine Teacher in the Way of Life. But He is God. We cannot sanitize His message. We do it at our own risk. Why do we sanitize anything in this way, dumbing things down? Because we are too afraid to face the truth, we cannot bear to look in the mirror at ourselves and find that we do not stack up to the ideals, to the calling. We fear looking deeper into things. We fear looking within. But I do not run away from the ideals; we are called to Love, to eternal life, to a higher dignity. Dr. King knew this. I do not run away, no, I cherish my "ideals." No matter how many times I sometimes feel utterly wretched and teeter on the brink of despair or self-loathing for failing miserably to reach them, I know that God makes up for where we lack. If we but trust in Him and His love, His grace will fill up all that we leave out. He finishes what we leave incomplete. He perfects what we do imperfectly. We take the first step up the stairs, He comes down to us and carries us up the rest.
No, we cannot "sanitize" Christ's message, Dr. King's message, or any other one who calls us out of darkness. Theirs are messages of great urgency. "Sanitizing" them strips them of that urgency, that need and imperative to act and to live our lives in this better way.
As a society, we have long since wandered away from the lofty, noble ideals of Dr. King. We abandon them as fools only. As G.K. Chesterton said:
"Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back."And Dr. King's ideals and hopes and vision are grounded in God and essentially the old chivalric ideals. For though the knights of old did fight, true knights never fought unless necessary to defend themselves or others. There was no rampant killing, and mercy was considered a virtue. And they, ideally, believed in something greater than themselves, and were willing to die for it if need be.
Certainly, the past wasn't perfect and also had its issues and failings and lost sight of what truly mattered. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Sounds like us now. Now, though, do we even have any ideals? Or have we sunk so low as to have vices disguised as virtues made our "ideals?"
Of course, in this life, we can never reach completely those high ideals set before us. And certainly not on our own. We must always depend on God, who will lift us up and strengthen us. Ask, as Lucy and the others did, for Aslan to breathe on you. As sinners, we will always stumble and fall, take a misstep, make a mistake. The key is not to stay there forever. Make an effort to get up, to start over, to ask God to help you and to heal you. As hard as it sometimes can be, sometimes we need to just lay there and in our hearts ask God to come to us and lift us up, set us back on our feet. I am saying these things to myself as much as to anyone who may read this. I need reminding, too.
As Christians, our Ideal is Christ. We look to Mary and the saints as models of how to follow Christ, and as friends who will pray for and help us along our way. Some of us will get very, very close to reaching those ideals. Mother Teresa comes to mind, as do others. Often these people are declared saints, holy ones. Often times not, as they just are not known. I am reminded of the words of a character in Harry Potter: "Constant Vigilance!" Don't give up.
Here I will offer just a few of Dr. King's many wonderful quotes. He said and wrote so much; the man had a gift for words and for speaking. May his words always inflame us to continue his legacy, to carry his banner high, to put his words into action, as he did, even unto death.
"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."
"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
God bless you, Dr. King. Thank you for all you did. I know you continue your great work in Heaven.