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What Makes a Person Great?

3. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights act...
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Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man.

Said today, that is a rather unremarkable statement. Back in 1968, when Martin Luther King was assassinated, it would have sparked intense, even violent, debate. To some he was a troublemaker. To others, evil. To yet others, he was a danger to society. And to certain parts of our society, to many broader structures that many felt were essential, he was a danger.

In 1968, when I first heard of him, what I heard was not generally favorable. Nobody told me he was a great man. Our family had just returned from Mexico, where we had been for four years. I was just old enough to start thinking a bit about politics. What I first heard wasn’t good.

Time has changed all that. Death and time makes people reevaluate their viewpoints. Time has seen the opinions of many shift so that many things for which Dr. King hoped do not seem so remarkable. We are still far from “free at last” but we have made some progress. I’ve read quite a number of favorable blog posts regarding this man today.

I have to wonder whether he would be so well received if he were alive today. In fact, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be. And that troubles me.

The cause of integration was right back in the 50s and 60s, yet many didn’t recognize it. How can we recognize something that is right now, rather than waiting for people to die for it.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about as I can today. How can I get on board for the right movement today?

I want to add one quote and link, because I hear so many Christians claim that just because something is the law, it must necessarily be obeyed. The following is from Dr. King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail:

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

So the argument here is that a law that fosters injustice must be resisted.

(HT: The Agitator)

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