Today the nation honors Martin Luther King, Junior. The original intent of the holiday was to “serve as a time for Americans to reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change espoused by Martin Luther King, Junior.” Put just a little differently, this is a day to reflect on the value of our political and civil rights, particularly the impartial rule of law and free and fair elections.
We live in angry, divided times. Perhaps impartial rule of law combined with free and fair elections seem impractical right now. If you are thinking that way, we ask you to reconsider.
Divided people resent any advantages the other side has. Resentment often leads to violence, especially when mixed with fear. There is no glory in the breakdown of society.
Knowing that, what is the best way to promote your own welfare? Commit yourself to do all you can to make sure everyone is treated equally – ensure the impartial rule of law, ensure everyone may vote, and ensure everyone’s votes are accurately counted and reported.
How can you do that? There are three parts to it.
- Stop sending warriors to our state legislatures. They only produce outrage and gridlock. Instead, send people who will work with their fellow legislators, regardless of party, for the best possible solutions to our many problems.
- Stop choosing partisans to count our votes. They create suspicion and distrust.
- Lobby your legislature for an end to gerrymandering of voter districts. They make our polarization worse.
There is one more thing you could do. Lead by example. We can all show respect without prejudice to our fellow Americans – regardless of their skin color, ethnicity, political ideology, religion, gender, or sexual preference. Showing respect opens hearts and minds, and thus eases our way forward in life. Best of all, respect begets respect.
Image: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Father Theodore Hesburgh singing “We Shall Overcome” at a 1964 civil rights rally in Soldier Field, Chicago.