Martin Luther King Jr. - A TRUE REBEL

It all started with Rosa Parks.  When Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus (the black section), there was no turning back.  Rosa was arrested on December 1, 1955 and 4 days later Martin was elected the head of a new protest group.  King helped to organize a bus boycott which would ask all black citizens to not use the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama until they were desegregated, no longer having a white section and a black section.  “Our concern” says Martin’s autobiography “would not be to put the bus company out of business, but to put justice in the business”.  AMAZING WORDS! The victory of this boycott belongs to the community though, who almost 100% co-operated with this long and grueling strike which included some hooking up horse to buggy again so that people could get to work.  Eventually, the battle was won and it was just the beginning for Martin and many of the black community who would take up the struggle as their life’s work.

It is Martin Luther King Jr. day today in the United States.  I wonder what the greeting is on such a day. Happy MLK Jr. Day?  Happy?  Merry?  The best way to remember and honour an amazing man like Martin Luther King Jr. is to continue the fight, because things are not all happy and merry.  That’s one of the reasons that I think Canada should commemorate this day as well.  Maybe instead we could have a “Harriet Tubman” day to recognize the role that Canada played in the Underground Railroad to free slaves fleeing from southern plantations.  We need days to inspire us to continue the struggle.

But what if we did recognize days like this in Canada?  Would we fill our day with all the regular holiday stuff and perhaps not even stop to realize that we don’t really even believe the things that Martin taught or held strongly too.  Martin Luther King Jr. is truly the inspiration behind “true rebel”.  It is his challenge in ‘I Have a Dream” to be a people who would be judged by our character that helped awaken something in me that I think we all need.  But our entire society still runs almost entirely counter to the beliefs of Martin Luther King Jr.  He is just as much of a radical today as he was then.

 Martin Luther took inspiration from the likes of Marx and Gandhi to take up the struggle for equality for blacks in a violently racist America.  “It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking.”  It is Martin Luther King’s commitment to non-violent resistance that still highlights his radical leadership.  His desire was to see love cut through the hate.  While he seems like an idealist, his methods actually accomplished some of the greatest achievements towards equality that America has even seen.  Violence was never going to be an effective tool in King’s case or in Gandhi’s and both achieved amazing things without it, while maintaining an integrity that those in power, who used violence, even against peaceful resistance, could never claim.  Sounds GREAT, but the reality is that we live currently in a North America that rejects Martin’s ideals daily.

Listen to Martin and see if you really agree;

It is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflictor of it.”  I could just stop there.  We don’t believe this AT ALL.  Maybe in our heads as an ideal, but certainly not in practice.  Martin believed that participation in violence has such a negative effect on the one being violent, that it would be better to be punched in the face, than to be the one doing the punching.  Sure, you might get a broken nose, but the negative effects of becoming a violent person are significantly worse. 

Our government doesn’t believe this either.  We believe that taking advantage of poorer countries to help ours is okay.  We’d rather see someone else suffer… as long as it is not us.  We are mostly okay with the fact that children work in fields and factories so that we can go and buy stuff cheaply.  Martin’s quote would challenge us to say, “Better that my child be a slave than I participate in a system that puts other people’s children into slavery.”  Living out the inspiration of Martin is a lot harder than we think.

I really want to focus in on the one thing that most of us find the hardest.  Martin participated in protest after protest.  The people who participated in these rallies were not allowed to use violence, no matter what.  They were spit on, beaten by police, sprayed with fire hoses, jailed numerous times, but they would not raise a hand to retaliate.  One of my favourite Martin quotes is, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."  So, instead of violence, anger and hatred, Martin taught that the ones who were doing the beating, spitting, name-calling etc., not only are you not to retaliate with violence, but I want you to LOVE them.

WHAT?!?!

Love them?!?!

So, what does that look like?  I think, it first means that we take violence off the table when we think of how to respond to a situation.  One of my favourite examples of this is when we hear that a guy we know hit a girl that we know.  Most of us guys feel that the appropriate response is to kick that guys ass and ‘teach him a lesson’.  What lesson are we teaching him?  That if we are stronger and tougher than him we can make him do what we want?  Do we teach him that violence is an effective tool for instruction?  It seems to me, that guy already thought those things and the cycle of violence isn’t ending, it only got worse when I beat him up… mostly to make myself feel better.  To the kid who made fun of me or made me look like an idiot in front of people, or to the bully, or to the people who believe things far different than what I do.  Can I choose love instead of hate or violence?

Choosing love means we look for other solutions.  We look for places where a voice or action is needed to confront fear, violence and hatred.  Where do we see prejudice daily because of the way someone is dressed, or the colour of their skin, or because of their age?  Where do you need to stand up to people in authority who are not making our communities great places for our youth?  Who makes you feel unsafe on your own streets (from the criminal to perhaps the police themselves)? 

At the very least, if we want to take LOVE seriously, we cannot participate in prejudice.  We become the solution to King’s dream by refusing to participate in the fear that leads to judging others based on how they are different or the same as we are. 

This is the True Rebel Challenge.  The hardest thing you’ve ever tried to do.  Love, Dignity, Respect for ALL PEOPLE, even for those who treat you with anger and hatred.  Even for those very different than yourself. We find it hard enough to treat our friends with kindness all the time, but this is asking us to LOVE everyone.  It is Martin who helped me realize that the choices we make are either inspired by LOVE or inspired by FEAR.  The choice to love is the choice to not be a victim of fear.  The choice to love is the most powerful choice we can ever make and is the most powerful weapon at our disposal.  We think love is a soft word, bringing up images of fluffy bunnies and pink clouds.  LOVE IS POWERFUL.  It is the motivation that has brought about the most significant change for the good.  And you can be part of it.

May your Martin Luther King Jr. day be full of LOVE for all people!

Youre so cool! I dont suppose

Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So good to find any individual with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for beginning this up. this website is one thing that's wanted on the net, someone with a little bit originality.

 
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