“We are not makers of history. We are made by history. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s day. It marks this day to celebrate the work of MLK during his lifetime—to get our government to do the right thing—offer the freedom to people of all color. Today is a testament to his work.
The idea of America is a unique one. Our form of government is like no other. This “grand experiment” began with many challenges, the first of which required a constitution. If you’ve ever read the Federalist papers, you’ll see the challenges our young nation faced at its beginning.
Slavery existed when our nation formed. It was an abhorrent practice, but one that was accepted across the globe as “normal”. Nations benefited by free labor and the slaves suffered horribly in our country and others.
Today, slavery is non-existent in most of the free world. America took a long time to rid itself of the inequalities that plagued many of color for centuries. Are we there yet? Well, sort of. I think many people have more opportunity today than they did when voting, college, and other “white” privileges were off-limits to these people. Being relegated to the back of a bus, a drinking fountain, a certain part of a restaurant, or even a job are all realities of a very dark past.
America changed. It adapted. It altered the way people are treated. America didn’t volunteer to do this. It was forced by individuals like MLK, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, and many others. The change was not easy, however. It required new laws, debate, argument, protest, and all the rest.
As our society evolves from one generation to the next, we are seeing that there are even more changes required to truly offer a non-discriminatory and inclusive society to all Americans. The changes required will cause even more new laws, debate, argument, and protest. Will we get there? Yes. America always has. We will get there because as our society evolves, the changes will come. They will come through a new Martin Luther King, Jr., a new JFK, a new Lyndon Johnson, a new Malcolm X, or a new Cesar Chavez. They will come because this is America, and this is what we do.
Social change forces change. It always does; it always has. For those that do not want to change, the revolution of ideas that will come forth will be a hard pill to swallow. This is not unlike the changes the country had to accept when schools were desegregated, new populations of people were granted the right to vote, the right to own property, and many other rights that are on the books today.
Is America perfect? No. But its founders were brilliant men that were knowledgeable enough to realize that our country would evolve, both to the world and to the needs of its citizenry. Subsequently, these men constructed the Constitution to allow for these unforeseen changes. The Constitution could be amended, and so it has.
Martin Luther King, Jr. served as a catalyst for change in this country, along with many others throughout our history. They fought against the odds but stuck with their principles. They were right, and the country would have to change. This is what heroes are made of. Heroes like MLK are once in a generation, but they are there. Some kid in high school will grow up to be the trailblazer for the changes our society will seek.
America is not perfect, but it is the one place in this world that people want to come to. They come here for better living conditions. They come here to provide a better life for their family. They come here because it is a safe place to raise their kids.
Until next week…