MLK celebration honors ‘lives of significance’

Jan. 18, 2002

MLK celebration honors ‘lives of significance’

"Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force," were Dr. Martin Luther King's vivid words from his speech " I have a Dream" delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. Thirty-eight years later on September 11, 2001 the Government's reaction towards the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. would entirely deteriorate Dr. King's dream of world peace and unity. Bush's decision to retaliate would vanish the realization of Dr. Kinds dream and imply that everything Dr. King had fought for had been completely in vain.

Dr. King once fought for desegregation of his people, for the poor and the oppressed all over the globe. Tying it all into world peace and unity under God’s blessing. "I have a dream that my four 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," was one of Dr. King's visions. This can be related to what has come upon the September I I catastrophe, where the Arab population must bear the collective guilt for a few of their people who caused great destruction. Both in the USA and abroad, Arabs are being judged by the color of their skin. Not only has the Arab population been attacked in many parts of the United States but also the United States is killing many innocent people along with children in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

Recapitulating on Dr. King's dream and the decision he would take if he were still alive today, he would consider President Bush's decision to declare war against terrorism erroneous, for as he said, "War is not the answer." Bush's action towards the 9-11 incident, although based on the terrorism attack, would be totally unacceptable in Dr. King’s judgment. Terrorism is a word full of different meanings and expressed differently by different people. Dr. King would examine the deep roots of rage that motivated the terrorists and find culpability on all sides. He would undoubtedly work for understanding rather than vengeance. In examining the aftermath of September 11, it can be inferred that the realization of Dr. King's dream would be a total failure because of Bush's decision to retaliate.

On the other hand, what would have been a dream come true in Dr. King's vision, would have been the coming together of the American people like never before to try and help out the families of those who were victims of the attack. An amazingly extensive unified nation was seen throughout this tough situation on September 11, as never before. Throughout this tragedy is where Dr. King's accomplishments should come afloat, where what he fought for should come to mind.

As proud as he would be of people's brotherhood within the U.S. borders, he would be equally ashamed of our inability to see other brothers beyond our borders. World peace was his struggle, a struggle complicated by incredible poverty and inequality.

"War is not the answer," were Dr. King's words in the address delivered to the clergy and laymen concerning Vietnam at Riverside church. To Dr. King, war was certainly not a solution to anything, but instead was the cause for greater damage. "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable," were the words of John F. Kennedy, later used by Dr. King at the Riverside church during the Vietnam crisis and "social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action," which were self-explanatory in describing the kind of choice Dr. King would have made concerning the September I I tragedy.

"Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them?" That would be Dr. King's approach, which many would find inexplicable and unpalatable, even as they did when he was alive.

Art Jackson has shared his leadership principles with the nation’s generals, senators, presidents and CEOs. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and of Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass. He holds a B.S. in engineering and an M.S. in management. He is continuing his studies toward a master of theology. He is the creator of the seminar series “Mounting Up on Wings of Greatness” and recently released the book, “Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh, My.”

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