Remembering MLK On His 90th

The list of people I admire is long.

But my list of heroes is a short one.

For me, hero is a special term reserved for people who are extraordinary souls. Some, like my father and grandfather, are quiet heroes. Others are giants who have changed our world or at least tried to.

Martin Luther King Jr., is a hero of mine. And millions of others too. Today we celebrate his legacy on what would have been his 90th birthday.

MLK’s message and his mission are both timeless and important. The issues he devoted and gave his life for –are still front burner in our society. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either depressing or inspiring, maybe a little of both.

We have undoubtedly made progress in the 51 years since MLK was taken—violently—from us. But we still wrestle with racism, hatred, violence, inequality, opportunity, education, health care, discrimination and a host of other ills.

Perhaps that’s the human condition—maybe as imperfect beings we never quite reach the Promised Land or achieve the dream—but it would sure be nice to slay a problem or two.

It would sure be nice to say ‘remember those days when people couldn’t afford health insurance?’ or ‘could you believe that there were once homeless people in America.’

We are a long way from the Promised Land.

In so many ways we are stuck.

Stuck with old ways of thinking, stuck with old biases and stuck in an endless battle with the other team, side, party—you name it.

I don’t hear a lot about what unites us these days. I do hear the endless cacophony of what divides us and it’s like fingernails on a blackboard.

Liberal elites, snowflakes, crazy conservatives, Trumpers—labels that divide.

Our leaders are not uniting us so therefore they are not leaders. They are combatants locked in an endless battle that will never end, can never end and it is doing tremendous damage to our nation and our standing in the world.

I am not suggesting that people give up their principles and pretend to get along but I am suggesting that the way we “debate” in this country is ruinous. We are not getting anywhere; the shutdown is a good example. We are willing to risk our economic growth, screw up airports (more than they already are), deny 800,000 families paychecks (not to mention thousands of contractors), hurt our farmers and destroy morale because our “leaders” have failed to come up with a coherent and comprehensive immigration policy for our country. Ironic, since we are a nation of immigrants.

On this MLK Day, a day when we are called to reflect and act on Dr. King’s dream we ought to look beyond Washington to our local communities as well.

Here, on the ground, we also see plenty of division in our communities over issues large and small.

Look no further than the future of the West Atlantic corridor to see the divide.

Thanks to years of work, the Delray CRA has amassed enough property to do an impactful project on the gateway of our city. There’s pressure to get it right and pressure is good because it should serve to focus the powers that be on the opportunity and the possibilities. But I sense some distrust in the process and while that may be inevitable, leaders need to recognize that distrust and face it head on.

It’s a teachable moment. Leaders wait for these moments. They are a chance to engage the community, dispel rumors, gather input and anchor the project to a bigger vision. If that opportunity is seized and we choose a good project it will build trust and community pride. If that opportunity is lost, the opposite happens.

MLK is a hero of mine because he exuded hope in a better future. That’s leadership—instilling fear is not leadership. Fear is easy to stir, but hope is real. It’s fuel—fuel to build a better world as MLK envisioned all those years ago.




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