Ending the Terror

I wasn’t planning on writing anything special for Martin Luther King Day, but I just read something that changed my mind.

There is a piece from DailyKos.com that is making its way around the web today entitled “Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did.”  It was first published in August 2011, but I hadn’t seen it before.  I urge you, especially today, to read it.



Right now.

Read it.  (There, I’ve even linked to it twice now so you don’t have to move the cursor back up the page to the first link.  I’m saving you time and effort.  Take advantage of it.)

I’ll wait for you to come back.

I am a white man who was born and raised in a post-Jim Crow America.  However, being married to an African American woman, I am keenly aware of the generations who came before us, stood up, fought, and sacrificed themselves for the rights that Nikki and I are blessed to live under today.

Still, that article was an eye-opener for me on multiple levels.  When we don’t have first-hand experience of something, we can’t see things from the perspective of those who do.  We have to gain an understanding of that perspective by taking the time to listen.

When we take the time to listen, we glean a seed of understanding.   When we water that seed, we realize not only what it meant to the people we gleaned it from, but also how it applies to different areas of our own lives.

For instance, this article tells of how MLK and the people who walked alongside him “ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south,” of how they ended “the climate of fear.”

But beyond even that (which in itself is huge), there’s something laying underneath the surface of the article that applies to everyone on this Earth:

“They told us: — whatever you are most afraid of doing vis a vis white people, go do it.  Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down.

“Go ahead sit at that lunch counter.  Sue the local school board.  All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed.

“If we do it all together, we’ll be OK.”

Did you catch that?


Do you need to stand up to someone?

Go do it.

Do you need to ask forgiveness from someone?

Go do it.

Is there a wrong that you have within your power to make right?

Go do it.

Do you have a dream inside you that refuses to die?

Go do it.

Is there a fear that’s been terrorizing you, that you need to finally face?

Go do it.

If we do all those things together, we’ll be OK.  We’ll even be much more than OK.

Because the worst that can happen to us if we go do it is nothing compared to what we will be once we’ve gone and done it.

We’ll be better than we were before.

We will no longer be afraid.

We will all be free…

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