Reflections on Justice

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

As a kid, I used to watch the black and white movie about Martin Luther King’s life that played on PBS. My brothers and I leaned in to the thirteen-inch screen and winced with each crack of the baton or spray of a fire hose. We were mesmerized by the courage shown by the civil rights activists in the face of hatred and oppression.

Every year I asked myself the same question: Could I be that brave?

We live in dark times. Hate spills out of the airwaves and into living rooms. Oppressions I will never fully understand happen every day. Rights may be taken away while corruption spreads its wings.

If I focus on what’s happening out there, all I have is despair.

Every year on MLK Jr Day I still ask myself the same question: Could I be that brave? I still don’t know the answer. But I try my best to be the light in dark times.

On Sunday, I made chili for fifty people at our local day shelter for the homeless during my regular rotation. A few weeks ago I split my end of year charity donations three ways–social justice, wellness, and basic needs–and sent the money to agencies in the greatest need. I talk to my neighbors, write to congress, sign petitions, and try my best to understand the hearts of others. More than anything, I put one foot in front of the other and remind myself of King’s directive: Be the light in dark times.

May we all be brave enough to be the light King hoped for.

Happy MLK Day