Words, actions of a life well lived

Perhaps the most famous quote attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr., is this one: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

No doubt, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great leader. He was a pastor, humanitarian, activist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement before he was assassinated April 4, 1968. We can still learn from him, as we consider just a few more of the statements he made:

• “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

• “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

• “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

• “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

• “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

On Sunday and Monday, across this country, there were rallies and marches in honor of MLK. Political leaders spoke of him. Schools held assemblies. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club in Washington, D.C. Hopefully, we will not forget him until next year. Hopefully, he will influence our actions and our words. Let’s not kid ourselves into believing — even after all these years since MLK was killed — there still isn’t a problem in this country when it comes to race and relationships. 

So, how can we honor MLK? There are ways. Simple, really. Follow his examples. Stand strong for justice. Reject racism. Say no to cruelty. Help those who need it. Fight the good fight. Don’t fear failure. In fact, embrace it. And as MLK did, dream. Dream big. Then, do all you can to turn that dream into reality. You might not change the world, but you might change your family, your neighborhood and your community. That’s a start.

Finally, considered these words he spoke during a speech in Memphis, Tennessee, the day before he was assassinated. They are not words of hate, of bitterness or of anger. They are words of a man who had given life his best — in the most trying of times. These are the words of a man without regret:

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like any man, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now.

I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

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