Friday, September 22, 2006
More powerful than the messenger
"I have a dream" may well be the sum of what I know about Martin Luther King, Jr. Sure, I've heard about him before, but all I knew was that he was this civil rights activist who 'had a dream' and fought - nonviolently - for the realization of his dream. Years after his death, the negro now can can sit anywhere in the bus, can drink and eat on the same restaurants as whites, can vote, can enroll in schools, and can have the same jobs as any white in America.
Looking at American history in hindsight, very few of us would condone the uglyblatantstupid racism that the blacks suffered in the past. Growing up with impressive archetypes such as Michael Jordan, Nelson Mandela, Denzel Washington, George Washington Carver, Aretha Franklin, and Muhammad Ali, the idea of blacks being inferior is as ridiculous to me as the idea of the moon being made up of cheese. Martin Luther King Jr. made sure of that.
Much of the world adores King today as the man behind the civil rights movement in the US, as a scholar and as an admirable preacher. Yancey's chapter about King, aside from focusing on all the noteworthy qualities of the renowned leader, also mentioned facts that we usually don't know.
More research pictured Mr. King as a plagiarist, an adulterer and a suspected sexual pervert. He had enemies on almost every front, and was tagged as a card-carrying communist (do they really carry cards? why????), an embezzler, and an instigator of disorder. (I bet these surprised you -- I know i was.)
While some of these accusations can be easily answered as the bitter underhanded shots of people who were unwilling to change their racist views, some of these allegations are undeniably true. Unattributed sentences can be found in Mr. Kings speeches and writings, and a released surveillance tape of Mr. King proved that he had illicit sexual activities even until the night before his death.
What strikes me upon this discovery, however, is not bitterness or a sense of betrayal from a man I was raised to admire, but a sense of wonder and gratitude for a God who is able to work in spite of the flaws of his messengers.
Many people would argue that due to his wrongdoings, King was not of God -- how could he, when he is ensnared in sin? But then again, if I were to remember my bible, the figures we admire there are also the people whom we could so easily condemn. King David had his military leader killed so he could claim his wife. Abraham pimped his wife for his safety. Solomon was a hedonist, Paul a murderer. The apostles were cowards, Moses, a fugitive. Jacob was a deceiver, and Rahab was a prostitute. If there is a lesson that I could get from all these biblical characters, it is that God, if given the chance, can redeem anything and make use of ANYONE. No one is beyond his salvation.
This comforts me, and most of my friends -- the knowledge that His message is greater than the messenger. My inequities might be gigantic in my eyes, but they are nothing -- absolutely nothing -- compared to my God.
* Photo swiped from Mabelvale Magnet Middle School
and from Black History Bookmarks