Another King holiday is upon us and promises are being made all across the country. We are making promises to treat each other better, promises to be more forgiving and less reactionary and promises to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper.
The question lies not in the promises made but can the promises be kept. King said, “Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.”
It is clear in these perilous times that we do fear one another. Blacks and Whites fear one another. The working class fears those who are unemployed and those with different social norms fear one another.
Getting over the fear of each will put us on the right track but how do we get over the fear? Our hearts and minds must change. Our hearts must change from being combative to being compassionate and our minds must change from being made up to becoming open.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the architect of the Civil Rights Movement, used the nonviolent strategies of Mahatma Gandhi to change the social climate of America.
I grew up in North Carolina and marched in peaceful demonstrations for justice and equality. A defining moment for me was when I met King when I was a student at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte.
My observation about America is that we have come a long way from our original efforts for equality and parity. Yet unfortunately the road of fairness is constantly under reconstruction. The bridge to equal opportunity has some toll stops along the way.
We have the toll of intolerance and the toll of sexism. When we can have more empathy, more love and greater understanding, we will eradicate these tolls.
King said, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.” I along with many others hold unto the belief that we are not too late. When your mind conceives it, your heart believes it then we can achieve it.
All of us can help to move the pendulum of progress forward. We can no longer sit passively by and wait for someone to instantly galvanize us. It is time for you and for me to step forward.
I don’t believe at least in my lifetime there will be another Martin Luther King Jr. Therefore we must each in our own way keep the dream alive by being action-oriented. It is not by position but through action that things get accomplished.
King stated, “Procrastination is still the thief of time. We may cry out desperately for time to pause, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on.”
Let this King holiday mean something to us. We will always be on the outside of opportunity if we don’t prepare ourselves educationally. We will never get to know someone who looks different than us if we don’t take the chance to say hello.
If we use time as a measuring stick then ours is short. However our children and their children can create an America that is brighter for all and is fairer to all.
King said, “We must work unceasingly to lift this nation that we love to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion and to a more noble expression of humaneness.”
The “Dream” lives on!
Dr. James Ewers is the President Emeritus of The Teen Mentoring Committee in Ohio. He served as a vice president and admissions director at several colleges and universities before retiring in 2012. A motivational speaker and workshop leader, he is the author of Perspectives From Where I Sit: Essays on Education, Parenting and Teen Issues.