Martin Luther King is a legend in socio-political America, and always will be. His words and his image reach forward from a time that now seems very bizarre, to grab us by our hearts, and we can’t help but listen.
However we now live in a time that future generations will see as just as bizarre, and just as historically interesting as the 1960’s were to us. So as we celebrate his holiday today, I can’t help but wonder: What would Dr. King say to america’s favorite celebrity if he were alive today?
Its a question that can never be fully answered, but its speculative nature does not make it any less interesting or intriguing.
Over the past few months, we have all become acquainted with the personality of Donald Trump, with quotes like:
“Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich.” — Good Morning America, 2011
“When I think I’m right, nothing bothers me.” — 60 Minutes, 1985
“Romney — I have a Gucci store that’s worth more than Romney.” — Des Moines Register, June 2015
“I think of myself as a young guy, but I’m not so young anymore. And I’ve been around for a long time. And it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.” — Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, 2004
“All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me — consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”
— on the social dynamics of his hit NBC reality show, to the Daily News in 2004
But you get the point, we all know the personality of Donald Trump. We know who he is.
What is much more difficult is understanding the persona and image of Martin Luther King. The only words most people know he said are: “I have a dream.”
But Martin Luther King said much more than people think he said, and spoke on many more subjects than people think he spoke on. If Dr. King were with us today, he would have much to say, and much to remind us of.
He would remind extremists on both sides that:
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
He would remind Donald Trump that:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
He would remind us, the people that saying:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”
He would reassure those of us losing hope in our union saying:
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
To those of us who choose to “sit out” the present political debate, he would urge us, saying:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people”
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'”
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
To the political pessimists he would say:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
But to all of us, regardless of Political Affiliation, he would say:
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”
Martin Luther King would also remind all of us, that the present political equation is no joke, he would remind us of the gravity of the situation. He would remind us of the power of love to change our city, our state, and our country.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”