Monday, January 19, 2009

Rights vs Reconciliation

On this MLK Day, I had very little time to think about the accomplishments of the late Martin Luther King Jr. I didn't have the day off, so I wasn't really able to do any service projects or commemorative events.

However I had the chance to think a little bit about reconciliation. It occurs to me that the Civil Rights movement, as important and vital as it was, only hit the tip of the iceburg of the original issue. Call it racism, sexism, or any other "-ism." This problem is misunderstanding. It's fear of the unknown which leads to division. Then filling in the gaps of what is unknown with walls that keep the divisions set in place. We do all manner of hurtful things to each other and keep adding more bricks to the wall.

We can set up governmental programs and create laws to enforce basic human rights, which is a great step forward (don't get me wrong) and much needed. But people will keep wanting to stick up the bricks, no matter how many walls we try to tear down. Reconciliation, is a step beyond. It's where two parties come to a voluntary understanding. Where they humble themselves on both sides. Where both are willing to see their faults (tear down their own walls) and misunderstanding and try to work for each other's good. Reconciliation is a heart change. You can't enforce it from the has to come from within.

Humans will continue to alienate themselves from each other...we've been doing it from the beginning of our existence (take the Garden of Eden, alienation from God - from people - AND from creation). I do believe that there is hope. With God's strength, we can learn to be humble and accept each other. It most likely won't be a great social movement like the one in the 60's - it is and will always be a small thing, inspired by small acts on a relationship to relationship basis.

Realize, this is not limited to concepts such as racism. We ALL alienate ourselves from each other, often our closest friends. We neglect to fulfill promises. We say a hurtful word. And one of the original sins - pride keeps us from mending our relationships.

I pray that God will break us of this pride so we can see into other people's we can truly reconcile: not begrudgingly give in to a set of principles, but to truly value each and every person. I think that's the dream that Dr. King was talking about.

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