We celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today. You’re going to see “I Have a Dream” speeches all over the web. And I guess that’s okay. I mean, that’s a really powerful speech. There’s a reason people will be talking about it. It’s stood the test of time and inspired countless people. And will continue to do so for years to come.
But King said many other things, too. Things people either don’t know about, or have forgotten, or gloss over because “I Have a Dream” is more popular and memorable. One of the things he said that really resonates with me is this:
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. (Like that? Tweet it.)
He delivered that line on November 7, 1957 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in a sermon titled “Loving Your Enemies.” King was all about nonviolent resistance.
I have a niece in the US Navy. My father also served, as did members of my husband’s family. I’m proud of my family’s service to our country. I’m humbled at the sacrifice our military men and women make every single day to guarantee our freedom and safety. (Like that? Tweet it.)
How in the world can I possibly justify those two views?
I look to my grandmother for inspiration.
To know her is to love her. She has more friends than all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren put together. If you need cheering up, she’s quick with a joke. If you need advice, she has a relevant life story for perspective. She has no enemies, and in the end (God willing, a long, long time from now), her friends will not be silent. There will be nothing but an outpouring of love and support from them.
King recognized that sometimes you needed to fight for what you believed in. Yet still, he was a peace-loving, God-fearing man. My grandmother had her own battles throughout her life, too. And now, at ninety-five, she lives each day believing it’s not the words of her enemies (she has none) or the silence of her friends that matters. It’s her own conscience that counts. And because she appreciates any sacrifice made on her behalf, she leads a peaceful life.
And isn’t peace all King really wanted for us, anyway?