Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr.: 50 Years Later

For millennials and those younger, Dr. King is a symbol of courage and he worked towards bringing words into action.  He is an example of what we can achieve when we come together for common cause and stand up for what is right. But we often forget MLK Jr.'s words and that he was a brilliant pastor and theologian.  He also knew that equal rights was not just an understanding of circumstance but a relationship. So on this day, I want to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day by pointing out where we have failed to change in the last 50 years and where we can continue his legacy through our building of relationships.

Since the Civil Rights Movement in the 50's and 60's we have certainly come a long way in bringing equality to our society in regards to racial discrimination. But we have also failed over and over again.  Gentrification of urban areas, police brutality and discrimination, educational systems that lack funding, segregated churches and organizations; I can go on and on with clear examples of how race relations have not progressed in the past decades. Our federal government has done little to curb this trajectory of race relations and society as a whole has lacked the initiation to stop the division of our culture. So how do we fix that? Let's refer to Jesus.

Now I could quote the golden rule or even talk about Jesus' comments on equality but I want to focus on the fact that Jesus had a profound impact on architecture.  This, of course, is in reference to social architecture.  In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus warns the crowds gathered to not build their houses on sand but instead on stone. We have to ask ourselves if our foundations in society are built on sand or are they built on stone?

Our foundations of society are the relationships of its people. How we interact and treat one another is the basis for which everything is standing on. If our first reaction to a stranger is a judgment because of their skin color then that relationship has been initiated by stereotypes and ignorance. However, if we begin our interaction with one another in an equal love for one another then the relationship will grow on equality, love and acceptance.

So if we want to stand up to the intolerance of racism in America then we need to begin by building relationships with people that are different from us.  I wish I learned this lesson a decade ago when I entered my undergraduate university. It is my hope that you can start doing this today because we can see the light in the darkness.  Racism has no place in this world, we are smarter than that. We need to learn to accept one another and celebrate that we are different but we are all equal in the eyes of God. Put down your ideas of hatred and fear and be the change in this world that will bring to life the dream that MLK Jr. had.

Over the past 10 years I have grown tremendously in my understanding of life.  This has included the rejection of culturally ingrained racism and the acceptance of people that are different than me.  I have learned to do this because of my faith.  And because of my faith I have decided to be a part of society that doesn't let the cultural-norm impose on me ideas that are blatantly wrong but stand up for what is right. Through this moral decision I have made relationships with people that are different than me (racial, cultural, religious) and have built my own foundation of love and acceptance.  If we all do the same thing then our society will have the same foundation.  We need to build relationships, ask forgiveness and make Dr. King proud.

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