King offers lessons for all to learn from

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2003

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. And in the words of photojournalist, Flip Schule, "Not only did he dream of a better world, his love has helped to make it one."

Schule also said, "Dr. King did not wait for change and evolution to occur naturally. He perpetrated it. He incited evolution. His greatness was his ability to analyze and attack the roots of an issue. He forced people to alter deeply ingrained attitudes, social customs and convictions not merely to change laws. And he did this by teaching Gandhi's principles of nonviolent direct action."

You wouldn't know it but this column on Dr. King has taken me days to research, and not for lack of material. I find I get lost in thought reading his words. Each quote I read has a lesson in it for me, which causes me to reflect on my own convictions. As an educator, I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to have Dr. King's ability to, "analyze and attack the roots of an issue" and "alter deeply ingrained attitudes." I can say I attempt, but Dr. King was a champion.

Dr. King spoke many times in opposition of violence. He said, "Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers."

Dr. King is one of my heroes and I find by keeping his words in front of me; I am inspired. This quote about character I keep on my bulletin board, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

A quote of Dr. King's I keep on my computer is, "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, other-centered men can build up."

I leave you with the words of Ronald Reagan, who on Jan.18, 1968, proclaimed the third Monday of January to be observed as a national holiday in honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

"Today we honor (King) with speeches and monuments. But let us do more. Let all Americans of every race and creed and color work together to build in this blessed land a shining city of brotherhood, justice, and harmony. This is the monument Dr. King would have wanted most of all."

Linda Tannehill is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Office. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Develop-ment programs. The Kenai Peninsu-la District Extension Office is at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A, Soldotna. The phone number is 262-5824 or toll-free at (800) 478-5824.

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