Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
~The following is taken from part of an chapel address I gave at my school last week. Other information has been added since then. The opinions contained are entirely my own. ~
Have you ever felt like the only one?
The only child at a table of adults? The only kid who didn’t have the popular shoes? The lone conservative in the family? The only person who didn’t get the joke?
Have you ever felt like the only one?
Did it make you feel different? Strange? Uncomfortable? Left out? Other than?
Did you perhaps wish that if only – if only they could see me, know me, hear me – then they would understand?
This past week, we honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
At times, I feel that Dr. King’s message of hope, love and justice is needed more today than back when he first began fighting the good fight.
In an age where a few unverified clicks on social media can ruin a person’s reputation; when a difference of opinion is grounds for the termination of a friendship or a job; where civility seems like an antiquated notion and offense seems to be our first response – yes, in this present age, it seems that what we truly need is a double dose of Dr. King.
Rooting out injustice in all its insidious forms seems like it should be such a simple thing. We all have hearts and souls, desires and dreams, the will to learn and try and plan and do. We all have the capacity to see one another, in all of our other-ness.
But if we have learned anything from the Holocaust and the myriad slaughter of innocents before and since, is that all it takes for injustice to advance is passivity.
There can be no spectators in the race for human rights.
It seems especially apt that on the brink of full blown war between Syria, Iran, and the nation of Israel, when missiles could be striking targets across the Middle East even as you read these words, that we take King’s words to heart.
He once observed, “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles but misguided men.”
I would add “…and women.”
We hear an awful lot about tolerance these days, and to be honest, it almost seems like the ones screaming the loudest are the least willing to see the other side. Perhaps, as my headmaster suggested last week, tolerance should not be our goal.
Was it not a twisted form of tolerance that led to the extermination of 6 million Jews, the proliferation of slavery, the shameful internment of Japanese Americans, even cyber-bullying?
And what of the 60 million babies slaughtered in the womb since 1973? Or New York, who has now decided that killing a full term human person minutes from delivery is a reason to celebrate?
I weep for the babies who were never allowed to draw a breath and I weep for their precious mommies who thought that they had no other choice.
No, we must NOT tolerate these and any other forms of evil or hatred, but seek instead to eradicate them from our body. Standing passively by is NOT an option.
We must not, as the apostle Paul once wrote, be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
But to do that, we must also understand. To recognize that EACH of us is the ONLY one.
I believe that we live in a society where we can not only see but live the manifestation of Dr. King’s iconic dream. Every day, I break bread with boys from China and Mexico and Korea and Japan, from uptown and downtown and north and east and south and west.
We see each other and love each other as we are, for all of our differences.
The faces before me reflect the manifold diversity and creative beauty of God’s tender hand, and I am grateful that there is no discrimination in His kingdom; His unconditional love is free to all nations, all tribes, all tongues.
I pray that God would help us to love as Jesus loves. To give us courage to ferret out evil and injustice, to tear each insidious occurence out by its very roots until no remnant remains.
I pray that we might steward our blessings well, that we may be a blessing to those who are poor, or marginalized, or forgotten.
I ask Him to help us to be gentle, humble, and unoffendable in our patience with each other.
And I pray that someday, soon, we will be joined together in perfect unity – one heart, one passion, one harmonious purpose – and that love would be the true mark of our maturity.