The images of death and suffering coming out of Haiti have caused many to reflect on ideas and concepts such as justice, compassion, and mercy, while others have been tempted to look away or find comfort in the notion it couldn't happen here because we are richer, we have better infrastructure, we are American and therefore blessed.
But as Martin Luther King tried to teach us, distinctions such as "American," "Haitian," "black," or "white" mean little in the cosmic scheme of things. We are all creatures of the same universe.
As we honor Dr. King today, let us remember that while he had more reasons than most to walk away from the struggle for equal rights and justice, he had a deep and abiding faith in America and mankind, and would not accept despair as "the final response to the ambiguities of history." As he said in his 1964 Nobel Prize acceptance speech:
I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.
"And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."
I still believe that we shall overcome....
We've come a long way and overcome much since 1964, thanks in part to the vision and efforts of great men like Dr. King. But let us not forget that there's work to be done -- here and, right now, in Haiti. Were he alive, you know that's where Dr. King would most want to be.
-- Mitch Nauffts