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Legislatively Speaking

We’ve Been Warned and Yet We Keep Making the Same Mistakes

Lena C. Taylor

As we near the national observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s holiday, we realize that King remains one of the most relevant and influential leaders of our day. King’s sentiment that the time is always right to do what’s right, has been invoked repeatedly when discussing a response to the recent attack on the United States Capital.

Ironically, those words were a part of a sermon King gave in 1968, in which he said, “It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, ‘Wait on time.’ Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

Dr. King spoke of a reckoning in America, in which we had to face some difficult truths about who we are as a nation. He was prophetic in his call to understand the revolution that was happening around him at the time. He insisted we understand the undeniable role of technology in our lives and how it could be harnessed to move the nation forward or destroy it. This was long before Facebook, Twitter and every other form of social media. He likely didn’t envision a platform that allowed Donald Trump to have 82 million people hang on to his every word, in real time. Trump amassed an enormous following that has now been stripped from his grasp because he didn’t understand or respect the power of technology.

The 1968 speech, which was delivered at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., was titled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”. Dr. King was telling folks to “stay woke” 50 years ago! He warned that “Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.

This King Holiday, in addition to a day of service, is a good time to review the teachings and sermon of King. Maybe if we do, we will stop making the same mistakes.

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