As Long as its Martin Luther King’s Vision of American Ideals …

With the July fourth holiday approaching, I pulled this one from the archives …


Martin Luther King SpeakingMorally sensitive efforts to wrestle with American history inevitably lead to being confronted with the fact that the United States, like every nation, has consistently perpetuated injustice. It tempers one’s enthusiasm for one’s country. The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. came up in class the other day and it reminded me what had struck me about a local MLK day celebration I had attended last month. I was reminded of the ironic fact that MLK embraced America. If there was ever an individual who had reason to be cynical about the ideals of liberty and justice for which the United States says it stands, it was him. Yet for King, these ideals still held meaning; these ideals transcended America’s moral failings. I realized that its not so much that American ideals of justice don’t exist, but rather I have been distracted by visions of justice that revolve around stubborn individualism and 2nd amendment rights, the persistent reality of systemic inequality, angry culture wars, or dishonest appeals to history. In a context in which differing visions of America’s moral fiber seem to exist in competition with one another, King represented a more transcendent, genuinely authentic version of American justice. And seeing things in a fresh way has restored a measure of my own optimism about American ideals, as long as its MLK’s vision of those ideals.

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