Unfinishable

“King’s last great crusade was the Poor People’s March. He never made it to the March. Trying to help the poor in Memphis, he was cut down. And the poor are still with us. As King said in a sermon, ‘One of the greatest agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.'” Adelman, B., & Johnson, C. (2007). Mine eyes have seen: Bearing witness to the Civil Rights struggle (p. 195). New York: Time Home Entertainment.
“King’s last great crusade was the Poor People’s March. He never made it to the March. Trying to help the poor in Memphis, he was cut down. And the poor are still with us. As King said in a sermon, ‘One of the greatest agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.’” Adelman, B., & Johnson, C. (2007). Mine eyes have seen: Bearing witness to the Civil Rights struggle (p. 195). New York: Time Home Entertainment.

 

As with so many people, Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my idols. I usually honor this day by reminiscing and sharing some of his greatest words as well as embarking on acts of social service throughout the day. Today, I spent the morning talking with my boys about our country’s history, how change was possible here and how MLK contributed to that change. Why his efforts were singular among other efforts. Love, peace and fairness. Fighting indignity with dignity. Fighting hate with love. Fighting violence with non-violence. What finally moved the middle to action were images of peaceful people being sprayed with fire hoses, those being beaten responding with hymns and prayers of love. Most people know, in their hearts, God abides in acts of love not hate or violence.

It does not go unnoticed that many of my heroes, those who have fought for equality and justice by peaceful means, have died at the hands of others. Jesus. Ghandi. MLK. Men to be feared because they move people to action. Catalyzing beliefs in fairness, peace and justice from wishes to reality. It seems to me, this approach has really been the only way throughout history to create massive and lasting change.

Faced with terrorist attacks, realized as well as thwarted, we still see much cruelty in our world. Amid organizations, among countries, across people, even neighbors and families. As MLK said, “One of the greatest agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.” The urge to rest is strong. The urge to ignore is powerful. The urge to succumb to the nagging thought that this is an unfinishable task is mighty.

Much like the feeling a mother has in rearing her children. We wonder, do I have the strength? We doubt our efforts are enough. But we never give up. These are our children after all. And this world is the future for our children’s children. It is and will be what we make of it. I take comfort in remembering that the million tiny, soft grains of sand laying upon the beach were once giant, ragged boulders. Over the course of time, nature persevered in changing the unchangeable. Finding and fulfilling the purpose and potential inside each and every life God has gifted the world is a worthy quest. Start with where you are and you can change the world. One ragged boulder at a time.

“One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.