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  • Writer's pictureKristin Lyman

Happy Birthday to The Unstoppable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hanging in my office, in between my map of Maryland and a photograph of Nolan Ryan in a blood spattered Texas Rangers uniform, I have a framed copy of MLK's last speech. Occasionally, I'll swivel my chair around and read different paragraphs. The conclusion captivates and inspires me, every time:

My awareness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. begins in elementary school. There is the "I Have a Dream" speech lesson that is repeated to varying degrees of detail for a few years. It wasn't until my 20s or 30s when I learned that Robert Kennedy, then attorney general, authorized a wiretap in MLK's hotel room that he was staying in to attend the March on Washington, at which time he delivered said speech. King J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI "requested" the wiretap; it is said RFK agreed only under duress from Hoover having secret information on JFK and his philandering (what tangled webs we weave). The hotel room recordings of MLK and his friends and associates aren't exactly proper dinnertime script, but private conversations often are not meant to be. I mention this here because no one is perfect, even saints, but that doesn't mean we are not capable of making the world a better place. If you're being hard on yourself today, let up! Let your goodness and love shine through and see how your quality of presence thickens and deepens and expands.

As I've grown older and my understanding evolves, MLK has come to life as a multi-dimensional figure. To defy the inertia of ignorance is the rare accomplishment of a leader who is in the world, but perhaps not fully of it. What really shines through as extraordinary is his belief and commitment to non-violent protest and demonstration. How does one inspire an oppressed population to large scale protest with methods pulled from Scripture and role modeled by Gandhi? To not react when provoked? To not be pulled into the traumatic relationship of reciprocal violence? To not become what one proclaims to fight against? All of this occurring in front of a background of extreme hate and prejudice. I cannot begin to place a number on how many death threats MLK and his family must have endured in his lifetime. Noble Peace Prize? How about Noble Peace Planet for this man?

To insist on a doctrine that is "unpopular" with the Ruling Class, to commit to it and promote it in the face of violence and hate borne of fear and to keep going no matter what? This is truly is God's Work on Earth. This is a soul that is so full of love, success is inevitable.

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