On the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I believe his words and actions are no less relevant today than they were forty-five years ago. More than just his words, but in particular, his actions. I know I will never be the orator that he was, but I can be a similar active, participating force, an agent for change, a contributor to peace and nonviolence. In voicing his commitment to nonviolence, he said “If I am the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence, that I will do.” And so the relevant question today is “am I willing to be the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence”? Am I willing to express my deep desire for peace? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to never give up hope, never give up the message, never submit to apathy, never to say “oh, let THEM take care of it”?
Because what I see today, and I think what Dr. King saw in his day, too many people are too quick to say “I don’t have time”, “What difference could it make?,” “My friends/family don’t agree.”
You see, those committed to the power of nonviolence see it as a philosophy of life, not simply a method of social change. Those committed to the power of nonviolence see its relevance to their personal conduct and credo in everyday life. Those committed to the power of nonviolence stand in the face of bigotry and anger and hatred and injustice with the courage to show another way, and model what real freedom is.
Dr. King challenged us to work for a greater humanity, for something greater than ourselves as individuals. So what am I doing to meet this challenge, to honor his legacy? What am I doing with not just the dream he left, but with the love and the faith to act?
Yes, I am challenged every day to act in integrity, to be a voice speaking for nonviolence. And sometimes I fail, but more often the universe confirms it is the right thing to do. Dr. King is gone, taken from us by an act of violence, the very thing he dedicated his life to change. But he left us a challenge, to step up to the plate and do our part; what am I doing to honor the challenge, to create a better world? When I look in the mirror in the morning, do I recognize the one person who can leave the world a better place than he found it? If not, why not?
I challenge you to ask yourself, as I am asking myself: if I am truly committed to peace and nonviolence, then live in that integrity. Stand up for what I believe. Raise my voice! Be the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence. “If I don’t, who will?”