I’m writing this on the day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. for his leadership. He is the icon which represents the dreams and the hard work of thousands of people working for racial justice in our nation. He stands in a long tradition of people who came before and those who followed – a few of them well known and most of them nameless. Their witness to us is that dreams and the resulting actions can change the world.
Folks who worked (and continue to work) for civil rights in the United States and around the world aren’t hoping for a world of no differences. They are working for a world in which differences are seen as enriching rather than divisive. Human beings are sometimes quick to reject those with another color skin, different ethnicity, varying politics or religion. We have been mystified when people from far nations fight wars over differences we can’t recognize – Tutsi vs. Hutu. Instead we can all learn to embrace our differences as a way to make life richer and fuller. We learn important insights from people who practice other religions. People from other political parties keep debate honest as we work together to address important issues. Even as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., our congress is engaged in partisan politics in which winning for the party is more important than caring for the people of this nation.
It’s time to reclaim the dream of unity in the midst of diversity. It’s time to reach out to those who differ with us and make the opening which leads to greater understanding. It’s time to honor a great man and a great movement by continuing the work and holding fast to the dream until it is fully realized. It’s time for us to take our place among those who work for unity and recognize our human brothers and sisters.