Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr. Day - 2016

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, what he stood for and what he accomplished. Let's not forget what still needs to be done. Oh, I know some of my friends don't think anything still needs to be done. Some are even angry. There are things to be angry about, regarding systems and policies, and maybe we don't all agree with what those are. But where we need to be careful about anger is when it becomes directed toward people or groups of people.

There once was someone I was very angry with for over a year or more. I didn't think I hated this person, but I later realized that if my feelings for this person hadn't turned into hate, then I don't know what hate is. I have repented of this, of course; but I'm sharing to say that it was only much later on down the road that I recognized it for what it was. In case you think - because I'm talking about Martin Luther King Day - that this story was about race, it wasn't. The person in question was the same race, economic class, and gender as I am, but my point is that we tend to read about hate and think that it isn't us, that it would never, ever be us. Yet, it's so easy to cross that line and not even be aware of it. 

When I read Martin Luther King Jr. speaking of "love, not hate"…I think his words were revolutionary for our world, and still are. I also think we often don't realize what hate means. We think it's this nebulous thing that doesn't apply to us. Here's the definition from Merriam Webster's online dictionary: "intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury". 

All my life, in all the parts of the country where I have lived, I have heard comments that would seem to bear out that definition, and especially regarding race. I believe there are still systems that need to be improved to protect people from other people's hate, but I also believe that one of the most important things we can each do as a person is to strive to love and to keep letting love overcome and drive hatred from our world. What if we look at people respectfully as individuals? What if we see all people as the same, yet each unique, each struggling with something, each possessing a great treasure of goodness inside, each created by God with enormous potential on earth and the potential to inherit heaven?

If we find ourselves complaining about people of a certain race or religion or nationality, are we looking at them as individuals? Did God - who made each of the snowflakes different - make people of any one race or religion or nationality all the same? Did he make people who deal with any particular circumstance all the same?  Did he make people who espouse any particular view all the same? Or did He make them all different? And doesn't he look at each person whom he lovingly created, and continue to love them, individually, uniquely? If we really stop and think, if we really stop and feel, can we do any less? Can we do any less for Him? 

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