A recent submission on the Omaha World Herald, by a local reader, shared their thought that President Obama’s only legacy is being dismantled since the Affordable Care Act is being dismantled. My response to that reader would be if you think that is his ONLY legacy, you are mistaken, ignorant, or simply unaware of the legacy he, and the ENTIRE First Family will have left for the world, after 8 years.
I share those words today, Sunday, January 15th as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day (which will be observed Monday.)
I was born in 1967 in Bellevue, Nebraska, a small town (then) city of Omaha. My very best elementary school friend was Damian Dominic. I knew right away that we were different. I was white, he was not. AND, it took me many years after those days to realize that what the truth to that really meant in life.
As a white person, a male no less, I have authority, privilege, acceptance, and power that women do not have, the non-white people do not have, and that perceived non-American’s will never have.
I hope, pray, and wish that everyone reading these words, understand what I just wrote, the fact of the matter is that, not everyone will fully understand what life is like TODAY, living as someone who is not male, or is not white.
I had the honor to share the Invocation at the City of Omaha-Douglas County Employee MLK Recognition Day last week. I shared these words:
“Living water, Loving, healing and forgiving God, we gather this day as a people of faith, each with our own joys, concerns, gifts, and needs. Let our mission in faith include teaching the fragile art of hospitality.
We ask that we be given the gift to revere both the critical mind, and generous heart, to prove that diversity need not mean divisiveness, and to witness to all that we must hold the whole world in our hands.
May this time together not be merely a check-off, of an annual “to-do” list,
let each of us be mindful that to honor Dr. King includes not only thanking God,
but for each of us recommit to the important work that is upon us today.
Today is a day that still includes much hatred and greed,
let us become as Dr. King, instruments of understanding, peace, and love.
Today is a day we still witness war in our lives, in our communities, and this world that keeps us divided; let us become as Dr. King, people who did not preach the call to arms, but the rather the call to stretch out our arms.
Today we witness words and acts of violence in our homes, schools, streets, and in speeches;
let us become as Dr. King, a person who has no need to bully, or seek violence, but to be faithful and trust in our faith, and reconciling love.
If, remembering Dr. King, you have found freedom, take it with you into the world
If, remembering Dr. King, you have found comfort, and compassion take it with you into the world
If, remembering Dr. King, you have remembered your own dreams, let us make those dreams reality and lift one another up to help those dreams along.
If, remembering Dr. King, you have recalled that seed of love, please share that love with a bruised and hurting word.
May peace, love, and compassion be with us, and always from us. In the many precious names we pray, Amen.”
Being white is not a crime. Being a police officer is not a crime. Being a person of color is not a crime. What is a crime, in my mind, is when we forget that we ALL have struggles, we ALL have red blood, we ALL deserve the SAME equity, equality, and justice for our life in this country. And today, that is not possible if you are not white, and in some cases, a male too.
Being literate, today, includes being able to unlearn, relearn, and learn. We have to be teachable, coachable, and willing to dialog with others who are not just like us.
Dr. King’s six principles of nonviolence are*:
Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.
He went on to share the six steps of nonviolent social change*:
(*shared from the OWH post: from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail in Whey We Can’t Wait, penguin Books, 1963.)
I urge, plead, and challenge EVERYONE to pause for a moment and consider the life you are living right now-what is your philosophy? Is it one that is inclusive, or is closed to only those like you? Is it one that helps others, or simply promotes you? Is it one that seeks to understand, or for you to be understood? Is it one that loves people as they are, or one that requires people to conform to your beliefs?
Dr. King’s legacy and philosophy is as current, valid, and need today, as it was during his life. What is your philosophy, and what is your legacy going to be?
Chaplain Royal Carleton
The Inclusive Life Center