Now that we have moved beyond another Martin Luther King Observance, the first celebrated with the presence of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, I invite you to join me in what will be a re-reading for some of us and a first reading for others. The Reading: Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero by Vincent Harding, Orbis Books, 1996. This book provides a number of informative, prophetic, and soul, heart, and mind-stretching essays that serve as a counterpoint to the poem of Carl Wendell Himes that Dr. Harding includes in the book:
Now that he is safely dead,
Let us praise him
and build monuments to his glory
and sing hosannas to his name.
Dead men make
such convenient heroes. They cannot
rise to challenge the images we would
fashion from their lives.
And besides, it is
easier to build monuments,
than to make a better world.
And after re-reading the book, rather than immediately pointing a finger at others, I will remember that when I do that, I am pointing three fingers at myself. These moments will not be well-served in memory of Dr. King if we fail to acknowledge that each one of us must join others of us, no matter how different their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or politics. "A better world" requires all of us to contribute to its making, by discovering, and then giving, the best that we have.
Asbury Park, New Jersey