Thanks to Dr. King
January 16, 2006
Dan posts one of this infrequent updates, titled "A Time Comes When Silence is Betrayal". It's a great perspective on Dr. King's work and legacy on the day when we honor him.
The various ways King's words can be interpreted help remind me of one of the most valuable things I've learned from reading and hearing his speeches and writings. It's that Dr. King represents the best of what public faith can be. I've always been of the strong opinion that one's faith should be a private matter. (Our current President gets it exactly backwards: One's history with substance abuse is completely relevant to one's qualfications and judgement as a public servant. But one's spiritual life prior to age 40 should probably be respected by the press as a private matter.)
But Dr. King shows the best possible way to testify, the highest calling of declaring one's faith publicly. Most public declarations of faith are unseemly, full of preening and judgement. I grew up in an area where it seemed most Christians acted anything but, so it was a revelation to me for a public figure to have championed his religion so humbly, honestly and respectfully. Before I encountered Dr. King's speeches, I didn't understand that true manifestations of faith could cause someone to embrace those who were different or those with whom we disagree. It's obvious why so many, regardless of their own faith or lack thereof, found common cause and a comfort in Dr. King's values.
So, of course, I have profound respect for Dr. King's work in civil rights. But I also thank him for teaching me that, even though I don't have a religion of my own, there's value in others' faith, especially when used to build up instead of to tear down. I still have a lot of work to do to get rid of my own prejudices in this regard, but the fact that I'm trying is just more proof that King's legacy is alive today.