This is my weekly editor’s letter, an introduction to our Top 10 blogs of the week email newsletter—a great way to follow elephant without getting overwhelmed (as opposed to, say, twitter or Facebook, where we’re verrrrry active). ~ ed.
We’re speedy. Too speedy to give a care about the greatest gentleman America has ever produced.
Martin Luther King, Jr., for most of us, is an icon. No more. A hero, not a man. We know The Speech, we know he worked to truly free his black sisters and brothers and that he did so in a way that didn’t make an enemy of whites. But that’s about it.
He’s become a caricature. When was the last time we sat down and put aside 23 minutes and watched a documentary about him? Or listened to one of his speeches? When was the last time we slowed down enough to remember what made him so successful in his cause—a cause not merely about race but about justice through non-violence or civil disobedience—a cause where other great women and men, such as the Dalai Lama, have struggled to attain any comparable degree of success.
For me, MLK’s message is this: you can be good, and you can win. Sure, King’s tragic assassination made a martyr of him—but Civil Rights, his cause, won out.
Today, MLK would be only 81—a sage elderly gentleman who would likely serve as a reference point for our nation, still. Let us honor him by reconnecting with his message, his voice, his bravery to use gentleness in the face of aggression. His refusal to create enemies, his insistence on turning his enemies into friends.
So I ask: what does MLK mean to you? Yes, you!
Yours in the Vision of Enlightened Society,