Monday, April 04, 2011

43 Years

I feel I have been remiss because I haven't even noted that today is a terrible date in our nation's history. The early morning air in Memphis, TN was rent by gunfire and a great and good man bled out the last of his life on the balcony of a Howard Johnson's motel, beginning days of rage that included the 101st Airborne being called in to Chicago.

I think it is important today to remember that Martin King died in the full understanding that was most likely his lot. He pressed on, however, day after day, year after year, fourteen long years from his beginnings as leader of the Montgomery, AL bus boycott until that fateful early spring morning. His was the kind of courage we note too infrequently, the courage of someone doing the job they've been appointed, in the face of all sorts of trials and terrors.

We who live in a world that was only possible because King lived and fought and, ultimately, died do him a multitude of dishonors, remembering this or that speech, this or that act, this or that moment from his life without taking his whole life in to account. We who live in an age of rank cowardice, who shiver and shake before obstacles far less intransigent, far less dangerous to our collective hearts and souls, dishonor his memory by meekly submitting to the many threats, giving up without fighting, surrendering before the battle has even engaged. His life, his legacy, is that ordinary people, preachers and students and teachers and housewives can indeed change their country, even as all the forces around us insist that the status quo is natural, even necessary. We can make our country a better place, and it isn't easy, and there are fewer more ardent foes than the forces that benefit from how things are right now.

I think the only weapon I would add to King's quiver with a single arrow with "Love" written on it, would be laughter. The powerful may take a long time to fall to love, even militant love. Laughter, however, is intolerable. Beyond that, we should, on this April 4, decide that we will not have let him die in vain by refusing to submit to the dead hand of the status quo. Remember, even if we don't get there, we do at least have the possibility of getting to the mountaintop and seeing so clearly that promised land to which we march together.

Virtual Tin Cup

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