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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

“We Mourn the Deaths in Pittsburgh”

(I wrote this op-ed piece for the Nelson Star last week and include it here.)

Do you know the significance of April 4th, 2018?

If you answered that it was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., you’d get a gold star.  Dr. King was murdered on April 4, 1968.  Sadly, it doesn’t seem that we’ve come very far since then in terms of peace and race relations; we certainly haven’t achieved the dream that Dr. King articulated more than 50 years ago!

What was that dream?  In 1963, Dr. King delivered his “I have a dream” speech in which he said near the end, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.  I have a dream today!”  The interesting thing about this speech is that some of it was delivered in an impromptu fashion; when Mahalia Jackson, the great Gospel singer, said, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!”, he diverted from his text and articulated his dream of freedom and equality.

I despair that we will never see that dream come to fruition.  The murder of 11 Jewish people in Pittsburgh a few days ago, the latest incident of how Dr. King’s dream is still unfulfilled, is a deep tragedy that affects all of us around the world.  It highlights again Dr. King’s famous words that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!

I don’t have any easy answers to solving the problems of injustice and violence in the world.  I do know that we have to give tangible expression to King’s dream.  We have to speak against the purveyors of hate and authoritarianism that are gaining political power around the world, the latest of which is in Brazil.  We have to continue to march, to speak out, to not let hate speech become normalized, to speak against anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and anything that threatens to destroy communities, eco-systems and neighbourhoods.

For the sake of our planet, for peace, and for the sake of the many species that have been driven to extinction by our inhumanity, we must not be idle.  “For what does God require of us, but to seek justice, love compassion and walk humbly with our God.”  (Micah 6:8)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this, David. My early memories were of Kennedy being gunned down and then less than 5 years later, both Bobby Kennedy and Martin L. King suffered the same fate in the same year. Then, 30 years later, I was in Denver when the 2 Columbine H.S. boys killed so many. By now there have been so very many that I've become almost desensitized to these events. I feel very weak and powerless afterwards. When can we ever predict, and somehow tune into these people, so we could help them to turn their minds away from hate? A few have done so and have spoken about the transformation that occurred.
    Thank you also for your post in yesterday's Nelson Star, which I consider a 'keeper'. God bless you, David!