Today we commemorate the life of a good man. Not a perfect man — a good man. At a time when violent change was convulsing the nation, he stood for non-violence. At a time when hatred fed its caustic poison into the veins of a nation, he abstained. He preferred the milk of human kindness to the drunkenness of hate.
All he did was walk.
In the face of guns, smoke, fire and fire hose, he walked. In the face of threats, taunts and vitriolic anger, he walked. In the face of beatings and imprisonment, he walked. In the face of long-standing bitterness and revenge-seeking, he walked.
Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19). He believed that, so he walked.
He was a calm presence in turbulent times, and as such he was a gift from God to our society. Things could have easily gotten worse. For a while they did, until he turned up and just walked. Like Jesus sleeping in the boat in the middle of a turbulent storm, he had a different agenda. He calmed the sea. He walked.
He didn’t walk away. He walked into. Right into the middle of everything, he walked. He locked arms with his fellow human beings, and walked.
We can walk today because of the One who walks with us. I believe he walked under the same power. We can lock arms and walk right into whatever we are facing.
“We’ve been in the mountain of racial injustice long enough,” Martin Luther King said in a speech to a Los Angeles synagogue in 1965. “And now it is time for us to move on to that great and noble realm of justice and brotherhood.”
He walked, and he kept on walking right up over that mountain, until he was gone.