On this day, April 4th, 1968, the world changed. Some would have us say that the world is a better place; others will say that it is not. For a while in my life, I thought the promise of the world was going to be fulfilled. But this singular day in my life along with other events that were soon to transpire have made me wonder if we ever understood what the promise was to be.
There are questions that we as a society even understand or even care that the promise was once made but has become unfulfilled. We are fast becoming a society where money, wealth, and power are more important than equality and justice. We are fast becoming a society divided by race, economic status, and education. And it would seem that those who have are even more concerned that those who do not have should be denied even the opportunity.
On April 4th, 1968, a man was killed for a cause little known in America. A man was killed because he choose to speak out against not only racial inequality but against economic inequality. Had he lived, he probably would have also spoken out against gender inequality. We may remember what he said and we will remark how glorious and elegant his rhetoric has resounded through the ages but we don’t seem to hear the words nor do we respond to the call of action.
Some will say that we have responded. But have we?
Have the reasons that Martin Luther King, Jr., came to Memphis been resolved? Oh, yes, the strike of the sanitation workers was settled but there is a growing gap between the wages and salaries of those at the top of the economic mountain and those at its foot. There is still hunger in America and our ability to feed the hungry is getting overwhelmed by those who need assistance. The medical profession has become the medical business; the priority is on medical economics (i.e., the “bottom line”), healing and caring are secondary considerations.
Let us do more than remember what happened forty years ago today or what was said forty years ago last night. Let us do more than stand on the mountaintop and declare what a great view of the promised land we see. Let us remember that it was their fears that kept the Israelites out of the Promised Land, It was their fears that kept them out for forty years. Forty years have passed since we last saw our promised land; it is time for us to enter. Last us move forward and take this country into the promised land. This will require more than words; it will require action and effort. Yes, it will be hard; yes, it will be difficult. But no promise has ever been met that did not require an effort on the part of all parties involved. It is time that we keep our part of the promise; it is time to enter the promised land of equality and justice.
My personal thoughts on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. are posted on “Where Were You on April 4 1968?”.