Martin Luther King was assassinated on this day. Shots ring out in a Memphis sky. There are few people I can think of that lived as prophets in modern times. In the twentieth century Gandhi is the only other one that comes to mind. MLK and Gandhi have in common their adherence to non violent protest in the face of vicious opposition.
Martin Luther King is luminous like a Biblical prophet; like Moses. He saw the promised land. And he led toward it. But from our vantage point, he couldn’t enter it; like Moses. Maybe death is the threshold experience to the promised land where perfectibility is possible. One hopes.
Abraham Lincoln is another person with mosaic qualities. He led us through the civil war crises and then was rewarded with a bullet in the head. No good deed goes unpunished. He also was killed in April. April is the cruelest month.
I am still learning about MLK and his life. Each thing I learn is remarkable and makes me respect the man more, if that is possible. I am in awe of his courage and talents. He is so striking in his speeches and ability to mobilize people into a movement and seek social justice.
Its hard for me to realize were this country stood before the civil rights movement. Its disheartening how we are still separated by race, class, gender, sexual preferences, politics and more.
I know from Steven Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now and others that the world is actually becoming a safer and kinder place to live. That kinder gentler world is not evenly distributed. The pockets of disaster make me doubt humanity’s ability to rise above greed, avarice, violence, and fear. We are a flawed race. Maybe artificial intelligence can provide the wisdom we lack. One hopes.
The struggle is to how not to lose hope and honor the likes of Dr. King. And all the others who have suffered. Living well is the best revenge and by well I mean honorably and in service to others.
We honor Martin Luther King best by honoring his dream and dreaming big and acting on our dreams.