Monday is a day we mark as Martin Luther King Day. Federal offices and schools have the day off. Banks are closed.
Stores are open.
It seems like Martin Luther King Day, or as so many commercials refer to it, “MLK Day,” is becoming another day to consume. To buy. It’s like Memorial Day. Or Veterans Day. “Go out and buy, people. That’s what today is for!”
Except it’s not.
What I’ll think about on Monday
I always take the time on Martin Luther King Day to try to imagine what went on inside that man’s mind and heart. There were a lot of African Americans who had the skills necessary to do what Martin Luther King did. They had the passion. They had the ability to organize people and speak and offer patience in the face of fire hoses. But Martin Luther King, he was special. He lifted up those people who could have taken the lead but didn’t. He lifted up the the poor and the downtrodden. He lifted up whites as well as African Americans. His message was of love and peace for everybody.
Man I wish we had a person like that today.
I have been trying to imagine what Martin Luther King would say about this world of online social networking. I keep coming back to the same answer. I imagine him saying, “What an amazing opportunity to spread good around the world. What an amazing opportunity to create a world where color and creed doesn’t matter. It’s just people talking. How incredible.”
The Dream has not been realized
A lot of people said that when Barack Obama became President of the United States, Martin Luther King’s dream was coming to fruition. I asked around, on Facebook and on Twitter, trying to find out what people think MLK would say about society if he was still around today. I wanted to see if anyone would say, “Oh, all of my dreams have come true.”
No one did.
The responses were almost unanimously the same. “We’ve come so far, and we have so much further to go.”
You can carry that sentiment to the world stage, where we are talking about the shootings in Tuscon, the war over immigrants coming into the United States from Mexico, and the general pall of incivility that looms over Washington, D.C. But you can also see it on a smaller stage – on this online stage. There are so many people who use this tool as a way to pick at people, as a way to spread hate and maliciousness, as a way to tear people down. Every time that happens, it shows us how far we are from Dr. King’s dream coming true. It’s not just about race. It’s not just about creed. It’s about all of us together.
It’s so entirely not about getting a mattress at 40% off.
Think about the future
As we move one generation further from when Martin Luther King was alive, we risk the danger of children not understanding what this annual day of observance is about. We move one more generation away from when schools and buses and stores were segregated. We move one more generation away from the March on Washington – the first one. We move one generation closer to marking Martin Luther King Day with a trip to the store and nothing else.
I don’t want to see that future. In fact, I have a dream that it won’t happen that way.
How about you?