Putting forth the effort of imagination

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day couldn’t have come at a better time. It comes at a time when the nation appears more divided than ever before – four days before the inauguration following the most detestable, divisive election in memory.

In a recent article, “What, to the Black American, Is Martin Luther King Jr. Day?” Chris Lebron, professor of African-American studies and philosophy at Yale University, stated, “While he indeed fought for the security of a full schedule of rights for black Americans, [Dr. King] was in fact fighting for something greater and more difficult to articulate – the hope that white Americans could extend a hand of brotherly and sisterly love to blacks. The mark of true love, for Dr. King, was to embrace strangers as familiars, and conversely, to deny that blacks’ humanity was a new and strange thing.”

“To embrace strangers as familiars” can apply to liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Trump supporters and Hillary supporters as well as to blacks and whites. Dr. King was hoping for something deeper than merely tolerating one another or even gaining social rights, he was talking about brotherhood and sisterhood. He was talking about love and respect. He was talking about true unity. The best way to honor Dr. King would be to take action on this kind of love, respect and unity in whatever way is appropriate for you.

Author Wendell Berry has written that to reach across a human divide, we “have to be able to imagine lives that are unlike ours.” In other words, love takes effort – starting with the effort of imagination.

As you contemplate these things today and plan a course of action, I offer some of Dr. King’s quotes for your reflection and inspiration. He was a master at packing a lot into a few words:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

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

There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’

That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

Honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Show love to someone who the current cultural climate says you should be hating.

Celebrate today by viewing Dr.King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Click here.