Observing the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. has become iconic on our calendars, though for many it marks more of a free weekend for skiing or traveling than for remembering the Civil Rights pioneer.
For many people — and I confess to being among them — King is remembered largely in broad strokes as a civil rights leader who sought change through non-violent means, stirred passions through powerful speeches, and was willing to be imprisoned for the cause of making our society more human, even to die for it.
But King’s insight went beyond the struggle to overcome our racial divide, and I was reminded of that by a helpful column from Curt Torrell in today’s News & Observer.
Torrell, who works with the Quaker House in Fayetteville, recalled how King warned against a “triumvirate of evil” that threatened our society. Racism, materialism, and militarism are not only insidious, but connected. King insisted “that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation and the problem of war are all tied together.”
I won’t repeat Torrell’s column, which I hope you will read: he succinctly shows ways in which we have allowed those three evils to grow even more powerful. Racism may be more covert, but remains very real. Economic disparity grows with every year as the corporations pad their profits at the expense of their workers. America continues to devote a greater percentage of our budget to military spending than any other country.
Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t just interested in seeing a day when children of all races could attend the same schools. He was all about the larger issues of peace and justice, too.
Longing for, praying for, and working for racial harmony, economic justice, and world peace isn’t just about honoring MLK: it’s about saving humanity — and serving the God who put us here.
And it’s something to be practiced far more than one day a year.