Martin Luther King essay by Ernest Fazio

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He was 26 years old when he began to be noticed as a force to be reckoned with. His ascent to prominence was predicated upon the simple notion of articulating and finding justice as he saw it.

He was courageous, but unlike that remarkable New Yorker, who dove onto a subway track to save the life of physically challenged man, Reverend King’s courage was more difficult to maintain.


No, Martin Luther King did not have a fraction of a second, he had the slow painful realization of protracted courage to deal with. His was the courage you go to bed with at night, and you worry that your actions will have adverse and painful effects on you, your family, and the people who believe in you. It’s the courage that haunts you every day. But day after day, month after month, and year after year Dr. King pursued his goals of justice.


What a wonderful example he created for the rest of us. While most of us never suffered the bigotry, and indignity that Reverend King was fighting, we all are called upon from time to time to stand up for something.


Martin Luther King achieved a great deal without violence on his part, or on the part of those who followed him. In contrast to leaders that use violence in the most cavalier manner, Reverend King put his own well being at risk, but admonished his followers not to pursue the course of violence or revenge. He did so with the full realization that he was always in danger.

Reverend King was a disciple of another man of history, who also achieved his goals by non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was also the example that fed the sharp intellect of Nelson Mandela. 


We celebrate Martin and the other examples given above as a way of remembering this great American on his birthday. The success of these great and brave leaders was not a fluke. These were men of deep spiritual commitment. Their beliefs were the guiding principles that allowed them to forge ahead despite the fact that they were fully aware of their vulnerability.


Not many of us will have the need or the ability to act courageously, but our hope is that faced with a bad situation we will behave in a way that we can be proud of ourselves. I often think that these individuals are the giants among us, but instead of feeling personally diminished by their larger than life courage, I am encouraged. I am encouraged because they were, after all mortals just like us. They were certainly not perfect, but Reverend King and the others were able to reach inside themselves and find something special.


Yes we want to honor Dr. King, but it is not about him anymore, it is about us. May we all be blessed with the courage it takes to lead our lives with the ability to reach into ourselves. May we find something that is as powerful as what Martin found in his being.