Two things today: the Inauguration of the 47th President of the United States of America, and the appointed day of remembrance for one of Gods servants Martin Luther King Jr. What a powerful day this is, but I struggled to appreciate it. During the inauguration, during one of several speeches made, I caught a sound byte; it was said that we as a country, are unique and indeed blessed that we can have this peaceful transfer of power, that there are no coups, no bloodshed or military enforcement. How did we get here? Lately, the days are filled with darkness, bad news, and acts of violence too horrible to comprehend. These acts pierce our hearts and souls; our courage is sorely tested.
When I was 8 years old, Dr King was martyred. Going forward, because of his death, even to the sealing of his testimony with his blood; a conversation was started concerning a memorial to him, a holiday. There is a lot of “red tape” involved in creating a “new” holiday. You have to start a petition and collect thousands of names. After the names are collected and the paperwork is submitted to the courts, it is then voted on. If it passes, it goes back to be ratified in the state governments. Can any of you remember the fallout of this process? I believe that most of the states in the union celebrate this day, and there may be at least 2 hold outs.
I could never understand why a holiday? We felt that Dr. Kings legacy was just too sacred to relegate to a holiday that is not celebrated on his real date of birth, but the nearest Monday, so that the government could subsidize the cost. It was argued that he would not want to be memorialized. He wanted the work to continue.
I have wondered, what kind of person takes up a noble cause in an attempt to raise the conscience of a people to a gross injustice, and then start a revolution without a single shot being fired? What kind of person would knowingly take on a cause for justice, knowing that it would be hard and dangerous and you would probably lose your life for the cause? I ask myself if I could do it, and I know that I would probably go on a march, or even door to door, but I would be hard pressed to endure any violence against me.
So Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize:
At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.
He considered himself so unworthy to receive it. I read his acceptance speech; and I will share a few excerpts with you. These words remind me of the words of Captain Moroni, and even Moroni son of Mormon.
I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that We Shall overcome!
This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnight's, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.I am touched by these words and the sheer relevance of them now. Words of truth have the ability to maintain their "freshness" and their "POW" punch. Again for me the lesson being taught is to "wake up". Awake sleeper.
Moroni 9:6 And now my beloved son, not withstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.