The Martin Luther King holiday has once more come and gone, along with reflections on the event itself as well as on the profound actions by its namesake during his all too short lifespan. I am, of course, old enough to have watched the vast bulk of Dr. King’s actions and accomplishments; I also remember well the day he was assassinated by ?? . . . James Earl Ray, some have said. There are huge numbers of people — generations, in fact — who were not yet around to witness Dr. King’s work, much less his untimely death. To them, it’s the stuff of history texts, etc. My older daughter is one of them; she’ll turn 30 this year. But 24 years ago right about now, she was in kindergarten and learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. She had a great teacher, one who had the will, the means, and cared enough to genuinely educate the little ones. And the results? The teacher used Dr. King’s forever compelling “I have a Dream” speech; she showed a tape of him speaking, then had the little ones use pencil and paper to show what it meant to them. Below is a photo of that which little Sarah Elizabeth wrote that day, in her own hand.
“I have a dream that we all could love one another. I have a dream that we can be sisters and brothers, that when the sun shines down on the world that there be peace on earth in every place for every one of every race.”
I suppose one could wonder a little bit just how it can be that a five year old named Sarah once made infinitely more sense on racial matters than another and much older Sarah (Palin) makes today, but OTOH, no, there’s probably no need to wonder. Not really. Perhaps quality of soul has nothing to do with age, or with race, gender, religion, guns, or national origin; maybe there really is something to the thesis (oft criticized) that a vibrant public education by inspired and inspirational teachers is a far more worthwhile goal for society to undertake than the ‘other’ one in which public education is too often described as a propaganda tool in the hands of unionized and overpaid hoodlums.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., represented one of humankind’s most thought-provoking pinnacles . . . one whose words and ideas could and can inspire even a five year-old child. Times appear to have changed rather severely, and we can only wonder what can be done to bring us back to the times when quality of soul meant far far more than the size of some billionaire’s offshore investment accounts.