BY BOB BEARDEN
Recently we honored the birth, life and legacy of a man who changed the way we think in this nation and who, with his Bible in his hand, affected the lives of millions of Americans of his time and millions more that were not yet born. He has become one of the most recognizable persons on our planet and his ideas and his accomplishments still resonant across the world.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In his last speech he made this comment: “Let us move on in these powerful days – these days of challenge – to make America what it ought to be.”
In celebrating the powerful legacy of peace and love that he left for us, we must continue to do the work that he began. Over the past three years we have come to realize that what he started is not yet fully realized and that there are people and forces that seek to wipe what he started.
We know that hatred, bigotry and racism still fester in the hardened hearts of many of our fellow citizens.
It remains for us to take up the mantle of Dr. King and set about softening the hearts of those arrayed against what he began and what he stood for. Dr. King’s visions are not yet complete, and because they aren’t, it is left to us to see that they are completed. It is up to us to foster love, caring and compassion for one another and end the hate, bigotry and racism.
Of course, it will be a monumental task because the dark forces have gained a powerful voice in our nation – one that has already worked mightily to divide the people of our nation along the lines of bigotry, racism and hatred. The dark forces monger fear as a weapon to divide us and destroy the legacy of Dr. King. We cannot let that happen. 2020 is a tipping point in our nation’s history, testing whether [to borrow from the words of Patrick Henry] this nation or any nation can long endure.
We have the guidelines Dr. King has given us to go by. It is up to us if we are to change the horrible spirit of hate-filled invective that we have been presented with over the past three years.
Remember the words of Dr. King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” “Hate cannot not drive out hate, only love can do that.”
We must hang together or, as Benjamin Franklin said at the onset of our American Revolution, “We shall all hang separately.”
Hate and fear has gained a powerful foothold in our democratic republic. We cannot stand idle while it grows more powerful. We have the ability to stop hate, fear, racism, and bigotry but only if we stand together.
Doing nothing in the face of its growing menace is not an option we can afford.
– Bob Bearden is chair of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation Board of Trustees and serves on the Board of Deacons of Mayflower Congregational Church UCC in Oklahoma City.