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Today, I want to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.  He is a man whose life I remember well.  However, I really didn’t “get” the real importance of what he was trying to do.  I do remember the spring of my final year of nursing in Philadelphia.  What a shock when I heard that he was killed!  I was sad.  I knew nothing would be the same when this good man died.

No, he wasn’t perfect.  None of us are.  But He was a force for good in our country…there is no doubt! That spring both he and Robert Kennedy were killed within a few weeks of each other…just as my college years were closing down.  It completed my college years in a grotesque sort of way that started with John Kennedy’s assassination a few months into my freshman year!

I thought I wasn’t prejudiced

Silly me, NO, stupid, arrogant me, I actually thought I wasn’t prejudiced.  I thought Martin Luther King wasn’t relevant to me!  I didn’t think I was better than people who had different colored skin from mine.  I thought that since I didn’t expect them to eat at different water fountains or use different bathrooms that I wasn’t prejudiced.  But my prejudices were much more subtle.

I didn’t get much of what he was talking about until we moved to Jamaica in 1971.  Our next door neighbor was Walford Thompson, from St. Vincent who later moved with his family to the US not far from where we later lived in Miami.  He and I used to have some very interesting and provocative conversations regarding race.  Wow!  I learned a lot…about myself and my attitudes.  He opened my eyes to my prejudices that were lurking in deep dark corners.

Reading and discussing about race

As new missionaries, we were given some reading material to help us learn more about the culture.  Some of it was about Jamaica, some was more about race.  I learned a lot from his questions…many of which I couldn’t answer honestly.  Or at least the honest answers didn’t sound like what I wanted to hear myself saying.

Since those years, I find myself comfortable with almost anybody.  Unfortunately, they aren’t always comfortable with me.  I have to be careful.  It turns out that all of us seem to have prejudices floating around here and there in the dark corners of our minds.  They color how we hear the words coming at us, the actions being done.  It is amazing how much they color our perceptions of what is happening around us!  Some of us have thought about our prejudices that may or may not be related to another person’s skin color.

It is wise to know your prejudices, wherever they are

For you, it may be from past experiences of war or poverty and the way you were treated by people from different places than you were.  It is interesting that in these quotes, MLK talks so much about light and darkness, love, not holding onto hate and bitterness…Interesting how applicable they are to everyone!

Take time today to remember this man, Martin Luther King, Jr.

So read them, think about them, and remember this man and others who have made a positive contribution to this country or your community or the world.  It usually starts small.  Be thankful.  Follow his wise advice.

Anyway, here are some quotes I mined today.  There are plenty to be found.  Not surprisingly, MLK had quite a way with words!

”Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

-”An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

-”Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

-”The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

-”Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”

-”Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

-”Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

-”Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

-”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

-”Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

-If you have a chance, be sure to read the “I have a Dream” speech.  It is amazing…and very moving.

For more quotes see the link below.

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