The Power of Words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Jan 19, 2021
On this day to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. we have a moment to remember that the struggle to preserve the promise of the United States, articulated within the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, has never been a 'perfect' reality.
Dr. King understood that the ideals of the United States held out a PROMISE that had to be struggled for, through the means of non-violent demands for justice. He disavowed the violence that many of his contemporaries fashioned as the means to fight injustice. Instead, he joined with others in the most human of endeavors, that of giving repeated voice to the lies of slavery, segregation, and economic disenfranchisement in every sector of society. Dr. King gave voice to the lies of racial injustice through his words and ability to pierce the hardened mind of even those who would not give credence to the condition of citizens, solely because of race.
All creatures have the ability to communicate. Yet, we as humans have the ability for language and speech. It is a most noble means of communication, to use words as the means to FIGHT injustice.
Injustice is an offense to all humans. That is the deepest truth of Dr. King's march against white supremacy as it was expressed in the 1950's and 1960's. His weapons were the truth, his words, and the solidarity he found with all who worked during the Civil Rights Movement, to make the United States more civil.
Speech and words are one of the highest intelligence's we humans can marshal in the attempt to convey to others the wrongs in our midst. It requires a melding of heart and mind to speak to the crowds with words that captivate the injustice of a society.
The 'animalistic' violence on the part of the mob who swarmed the U.S. Capital on January 6, 2021 provides evidence for the draconian potential of human beings when there there is an absence of elevated leadership. Injustice ignites the human passions of which a feral strain was on display for all to witness. Later reports of urine and feces and blood splatter in the Capital building represent the antithesis of human potential. Such conduct is an offense to the very Constitution that was used for justification of the assault. Prayers 'in the name of Jesus' used in the well of the Senate to rationalize the violence discredit the Christian faith. Such artifices are 'un-American' and regressive.
Violence denigrates the ability of Americans to give voice to their views and their conditions which are the source of the violence. It requires self-discipline and careful attention to what one wants to convey to others when using the tools of words and speech.
Because of his words, Dr. King found himself meeting the morning sun in a jail 29 times. His use of persuasion and effective imagery was so powerful that his enemies felt threatened. His words were filled with the demands and heart-filled passions to bring more justice to all in the United States who were/are of African descent. Words are not weak, nor passive. His words led to his death.
Today, in 2021, the country is at another crossroads, a time when violence is overtaking the domain of speech. A time when there is mistrust for those in positions of power who use their words to misdirect, mislead, and lie. A time when elected officials demonstrate an absence of integrity as their words sway 'to and fro' catching whatever wind will garner the most attention. These are people who are seeking attention and are not worthy to hold leadership positions.
Today in the United States we are reckoning with many injustices that threaten to rip the foundations of the nation into sectionalism. But we cannot categorize humans by race, state, economic status, or even political party; this is a resignation from the work we must do in this country. We must retreat from the childlike urges to claim "all these people are this or that".
To be Americans, together, we must first look for leaders whose speech and feet align. We must identify leaders whose character is trustworthy and wise. And we must require justice for all.
To repeat, words are not passive. They can be powerful when aligned with the character of a man or woman who will fight for what is promised to all. Dr. King is that example for us all today. He put his life in the public domain with his words and demands for justice. The country upholds his moral courage every year with a day to honor his example.
It's a hard thing we aim to do in America. It's a hard thing.