Monday, January 21, 2008

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Cowardice asks the question: 'Is it safe?'
Expediency asks the question: 'Is it politic?'
But conscience asks the question: 'Is it right?'
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.”

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968)

For many years after 1968, I had trouble figuring out what year it was. When I was asked, I would reflexively think: “1968”. It took me a second or two to realize that it was 1969, 1970, 1971 and so on. 1968 was a traumatic, tumultuous and terrible year. Dr. King was assassinated in April. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in June, less than five years after his brother President John F. Kennedy had also been assassinated. The Vietnam War was raging. Americans were protesting the war, most especially on college campuses. It felt as if every single day something awful was being reported on the news.

In 1968 I was only ten years old. 1968 changed me. Those slain leaders, the protesters against the war, the participants in the civil rights movement and the preaching from the pulpit by post Vatican II liberal Catholic clergy, shaped who I grew up to be. I am grateful to them all, indebted to their sacrifices, inspired by their courage.

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