“Intelligence plus character——that is the goal of true education.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Recently here in the USA we observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Always the third Monday in January close to the actual date of his birth on January 15th. With much embarrassment I admit that for most of my adult life this day was just a paid holiday at the beginning of every year.
I was born in 1963 so I don’t remember a lot about Dr. King. Everything I know about him was learned after he was already in the arms of Jesus.
Being part of a middle-class white family in the Pennsylvania countryside, the details of MLK’s fight for Civil Rights did not find its way onto my radar very often. However, I did understand firsthand the ugly root of perceived inequality and the need for Civil Rights ——prejudiced thinking and warped attitudes. I hated both of these.
In my local area, rabid name calling and condescending attitudes billowed into a thick ugly smog that poisoned the air we breathed. The anger seemed contagious. I never understood how you could look down on and hate someone you didn’t even know personally.
I do know one rock from which this nasty prejudice problem crawled out from under and slithered into my local world: lack of education.
The Great Depression necessitated many children to enter the labor force as young as eight years old or face starvation. This was the unfortunate lot of countless children born in the 1920s and 30s in Pennsylvania. Especially young boys were sent to work on farms to help support their large families. Scores of men who became fathers and local leaders during my upbringing experienced this lack of education in their past and never fully realized the truth of our big, beautiful world and its multi-faceted cultures.
As my dear husband often says, “they didn’t know what they didn’t know.” And so without education and lack of character molding on a stable home front, they learned to become hard workers with little understanding for anyone who seemed, thought, or appeared different.
In John 8:32 Jesus said “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Now in this passage HE was teaching about the truth of salvation being in Himself alone. Without being taught about salvation they could not experience it.
There is freedom in truth. This principle laid out by Jesus hits so many areas of life including combatting prejudice. KNOWING the truth that our world was created intentionally with many varied, wonderful people groups with unique cultures, individual personalities, and differing opinions sets us free to respect and love each other.
Growing up in an environment where many leaders were infected with the pestilence of hatred, my odds of contracting the disease ran high. God only knows how I escaped the enslavement of a heart fettered by prejudice. I praise Him as I am reminded by this 2019 Martin Luther King Day that freedom from such an enslaving mindset needs to be guarded. If I fail to guard it I risk slowly compromising it and losing it without my realization. I must protect how I view the virtue of each individual lest I too become poisoned and chained by prejudice.
May it never be so and may we who are free from prejudice teach by our daily conduct those around us how to respect, appreciate and love all men by the grace of Almighty God!
“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”
Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr.
What are your thoughts on MLK Day? Share so we can learn from one another.
Shine on. . .