“Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord”

In this moment in American history, when fear and paranoia seem to rule the day, I look back to 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King, speaking in Memphis, TN — a city where this great American would be assassinated fewer than 24 hours later — he started by saying “Be true to what you said on paper.” But somewhere he read about the freedom of assembly, the freedom of speech, that the right to protest to protest for right constitutes the greatness of America.

“It really doesn’t matter now… because I’ve been to the mountaintop. …I’ve seen the promised land; I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.”

The next day, he was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel.

He was standing for the rights to people who are often considered the lowest of the low to a fair wage, working rights and respect — sanitation workers who are people of colour. He was speaking in a city where he was not welcome, considered by many across this nation as a Communist, a spy, a traitor and other words I will never utter nor write.

I believe that we, as a nation, stand at a crossroads. Do we choose to embrace a land where men, women, African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Indian-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans — *all Americans* have equal rights, be they gay, straight, trans, bi, questioning, intersex, Catholic, Lutheran, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, rich, poor, somewhere between? Or do we choose to become a land where we reject people of a certain faith community? Do we elect to tell families and individuals fleeing from horror, rape and murder that “you not welcome here.”?

The America in which I still believe and into which I was born is the America Dr. King saw, Jane Addams saw, Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk, Utah Phillips, President Lincoln saw, Thomas Paine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Jefferson John Lewis and so many more who fought and struggled to bring fairness to this society — and for which we are still struggling, and which every woman, LGBTQIA person and anyone not white experiences on a daily basis.

I’m a white male living in America; I have a degree from an Ivy League university. I’m essentially the most privileged person on this planet, so I’ve never been called words that begin with “n,” “c” or “w,” among others. I have been called a “faggot” on a Boston street, a “psychopath” because I’ve spent time on psych wards, “a fucking liberal asshole” because I have a Bernie sticker on my car and I’m Unitarian. Those aren’t what represents America; my America welcomes everyone. That’s my struggle and will be as long as I’m alive.

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~ by Benji on 21 November 2015.

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