Monday, January 19, 2009

The status of His Dream

As we celebrate Martin Luther King. Jr. Day today and the inauguration tomorrow of Barack Obama, I am mindful of the words of Martin Luther King, III, as printed in today's Washington Post,

In that poignant article, he stated that "Barack Obama's election does not render my father's dream realized".

While I cannot claim to understand the black experience in America, this language made me mindful of the story I shared at the Men's Walk to Emmaus on April 6, 2008, regarding something I witnessed in January a year ago next week.


A couple of days after the Martin Luther King Day holiday, I took my daughters to elementary school.

I observed a troubling scene. I was just an on-looker. I do not know what was in the hearts of the children. Any conclusion is merely my own, based on how it appeared.
Two young boys, one tow-head white and one ebony-black, likely a refugee child from Africa who may not yet speak English, were waiting in line to go into school. The black boy was ahead of the white boy in line. The white boy was just a few inches taller, heavier. He was facing the other boy. His head was hooded. He had his right hand held on the front of the other boy’s throat. It looked to me like the way a pit-bull, or other similar dog or a big-cat grasps its prey, immobilizing it. The other boy, facing me, did not move. I was struck by the scene. It may have been about 10 seconds, at most, before I stepped in to stop it. The staff moved in at the same moment, moved the attacker, and kept him separated. The teacher was alerted to what happened.

The school did the right thing, as far as I could tell, responding quickly.
But what of the two boys? What lessons have they been taught that led to this assault? What lessons did they learn on the playground this day? How far have we come as a people, to achieve Dr. King’s dream? How color blind are we?

How should we as Christians respond to injustice, even at the local level? How should we respond to injustice around the world?

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