Posted by: alliehope | January 21, 2008

MLK Day reflection

Sorry for the completely obvious title. I have a cold, so I am probably not with my full creative powers right now. 🙂

Having said that, I’m amazed at the beauty and power of one life: that of Martin Luther King, Jr. Hearing (or reading; Scot McKnight over at Jesus Creed has it posted) the “I Have A Dream” speech never fails to send shivers down my spine, or make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The power of his words, coupled with the integrity and courage with which he lived his life, are to me, as they are to countless thousands, an inspiration.

As I reflect on the state of America some forty years after Dr. King, I find myself asking one question: could my generation be the one that makes his dream come true? I firmly believe so. Call me overly optimistic, but I believe that we (current 20-somethings) have the power, the desire, the knowledge and the faith to bring his dream of brotherhood (and sisterhood) to life, and at least in our lifetime, break the fangs of racism.

It is this racism that continues to plague our society, racism of which, I sadly, am often guilty of. On further examination of my own heart, I know that I possess ugly attitudes regarding those of other races. I can’t be in denial of it, since I know that denial only blocks knowledge and growth. I admit to passing on my fair share of racist jokes, and laughing at the same. I also know that I’ve thought things about people of other races that dehumanize them, in an effort to not look at myself and my own problems.

I think, then, that MLK day becomes a day for me of repentance, of self-examination, and recommittment to the dream of reconciliation. I realize that I may only be one person, but as one person, I have the power to make a difference. But by participating, regardless of the level, in racism, I am silencing my own voice, and misusing the power God gave me. Is this what MLK would have wanted?

The answer to that is a sound no. And so, for my participation in racist thought systems and societal norms, I repent. It might not make that much difference, an anonymous repentance on a blog, but I at least am attempting to own up to my own participation in the sin of racism. Jim Wallis (of Sojourners) was right: racism is America’s original sin.

I can only pray that as I grow as a person, my committment to reconciliation, diversity and love will grow with me. I am one, but I am not alone in this. I believe, as I said, that my generation may be the one that, at least for our lifetimes, eliminates the scourge of racism. I also pray for our leaders this day, that they might make, and live, that same commitment.


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