Martin Luther King Jr. and What He Really Said

mlk-praying

The famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. shook the heart of America with his visionary speeches.  Ironically, the words that propelled a monumental freedom movement are now bound up under legal copyright issues.  The words ringing of freedom are not free for public use; the videos are available at a financial charge, so your poverty level just might keep you from envisioning the key to your shackles.  For those of us who grew up in America during King’s profound influence (lasting years after his death), we carry his words in our soul.  I still remember the concept of not judging a person by their skin; as a child I could easily accept and grant this equality to my fellow classmates.  However, many Americans have seen the abuses of taking a positive flame of this bright candle and throwing its fire onto the carpet.  Of the wonderful revelations Martin Luther King Jr. gave us, some of them stand vulnerable to being discarded by those of ignorant haste.

The first revelation reminds us that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not only a devout Christian, but a Reverend who looked favorably to Jesus Christ.  An honorable man of values, he preached against moral relativity, a troubling trend in our times.  In fact, his famous dream that his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin” binds with the dream that they would be judged “by the content of their character.”  To say that we should not judge at all is a treacherous slope that even this civil rights leader would not tread.  We can judge character and even use wise judgment to promote hard-working people of any background.  The question of judgment boils down to the consistency of the human being.  Are we, as some scientists propose, entirely chemically driven, pulled by DNA strands like strings of a puppet?  Or is there a human soul, taking the invisible software and making physical impressions upon the hardware in the chemical being?  If we are to take the American civil rights leader seriously, we believe in a higher existence.  There is a part of our physical being that cannot change (e.g. skin) because it has no bearing on our moral character.  Then there is a part of the human that wants to love alcohol or the neighbor’s wife.  Calling this a genetic disposition will not make it as permanent as skin color.  Even the chemical tendencies are subject to a higher part of our being, the soul.  We hear the call of Jesus to be an overcomer, and we strive to find our character judged with “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Another revelation gets stampeded by the skeptic’s ignorance of the Bible.  They see God as some bullying ethnic cleanser, perhaps due to their own prejudices.  What lenses should we even put upon our modern eyes, when reaching back to a time and place so far removed from our own?  If anything, we understand that the Hebrews were the minority with no homeland, escaping slavery to roam in tents across the wilderness.  This being the very reason Martin Luther King Jr. felt no shame in associating his people’s rise from slavery with the Israelite’s rise from slavery.  Furthermore, he could equate the non-violent takeover of American freedom with the warfare-engaged takeover of the infamous Promised Land.  How did he do this?  The same way Christians have been doing it since Christianity started!  Christians swiftly understand Jesus non-earthly kingdom of spiritual battle, of putting down the sword and turning the other cheek.  Church history has temporarily departed from this ideal as cults do, when blinding the masses to the entire truth of the Bible.  But if we dare to study further, we find God to be a defender of the bullied, choosing the weaker people in order to prove His power.  Paul Copan deftly argues against the hasty accusations toward this God.  http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201004/201004_138_Canannites.cfm

There are surely more misuses of “civil rights.”  So how have we taken the powerful ideals of King and turned them around to the point where such misinterpretations of “hate speech” would incriminate the Reverend King in his Biblical stance?  Extremists on both ends of the spectrum have undoubtedly grabbed the microphone in violent ambition.  “You’re going to hell” should never be the first words heard from a Christian tongue; “You’re politically incorrect” is just as stifling.  As an American, I have a dream.  I dream that we can respect each other in word in deed.  Let’s see past the preconceived images.  Let there be open doors to the poor, open hearts within the rich, and solid ground for the rest of America.  The open door of opportunity was Martin Luther King’s check due to be cashed in.  Let’s speak freely from the heart, issuing the truth in love.  Let’s renew the desire of discovering our value in God’s Word.

Though many of King’s words are for sale or copyrighted, here is one of the public sources remaining:  http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm