Celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an annual favorite of mine. Every year, the day approaches and I wonder what I will do to remember my first and enduring hero. And sadly, the actual day arrives with an empty calendar. I think that this mostly has to do with the circumstances of my life, a too long list of to do’s on account of my never-ending ambitions, and the sad fact that amongst the people I know, I am probably the only one who would like to do something communal to celebrate Dr. King. And so every year I end up alone, thinking about him. Given all sorts of events of recent, on this particular occasion of remembering Dr. King, I am thinking about the reality of loss, the endurance of spirit, and the tides of the material world that bind us into habits of being. All this has to do with the machinations of our all powerful minds. We are putty in the hands of our minds’ dictates, and I find that unrelenting truth fascinating. As I look at the world that we inhabit, the cruelties that we inflict first upon ourselves and then upon others, I am amazed at how our minds are what drive us to do these things.
I have a few new projects in the hopper (remember the never-ending to do list?), that are lurking behind the words that I write here today. But I want to keep this post short and sweet: just one in a vast collection of homages to an American great who above all else, always stood up for the best of ourselves. The reason that Dr. King has remained, and I do believe that he will always be, my number one hero is because he spoke essential truths. At so many points in my life I am looking for proof of a point: where goodness and righteousness are my ultimate goals. And I find him. He was always speaking to the essential good. And I cannot think of a better definition of a hero.
It is not only on his honorary birthday that I remember Dr. King, but many many days out of a given year, he is on my mind. I would dare say that I think of him nearly every day. Not that I’m keeping track, so I can’t be sure about that. But he is big in my life and now I realize that perhaps I’m making a pitch for more people to call on their memories of Dr. King with increasing frequency. And this is not to discount the heroic acts that each of us makes regularly, but to make a point about Dr. King. One man, who had an amazing charisma, who made many many many excellent points, who put himself at the front of the line pushing against the ugliness of us all, and who died very early in his life. The ugliness pushed back, he got a break from a never-ending list of deeds to do, and the rest of us got a hero for all time. The injustice is sick. The sadness of loss, infinite. But so are his words, and what he stood for. Love above all else.
It seems to me that we are often looking for the neat summary. When I am not thinking of Dr. King’s wise words, I’m thinking of his place in the world, the service that he provided us. And so, that’s my story. This year. Next year it may be different, based on who I meet and what words we share. But always, Dr. King will remain a hero to me.