The Life and Times of MLK

Hello, all. I know: what’s that? Who’s that? Does a voice beckon from the Den?

It’s been a while. I know it, you know it, so there’s no sense beating around the bush. I confess I have been somewhat internet-removed of late. Reasons, they could flow like a waterfall down the excuse trail of the great wide web, but a Chris is a Chris, a blog is a blog, and I shall use this space as it’s designed (nevermind that I’m the designer). The only proper way I see to do that is to kick things off in celebration (champagne optional, internet cookies will be provided free of charge).

New Years has now come and gone, but while there remains a long slog of winter left to go, there is still a very important holiday to remember, and it’s already in swing. Did you need to run to your calendar to see? If you’re in the United States, I dare say you should know: it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day dedicated to the advancement of liberties in this country, as well as one of its biggest proponents.

Pause a moment. Think on that. Today, America is also inaugurating its first African American president for the second time. President Barack Obama. Fifty, sixty years ago–not even a lifetime–this would not have been thought possible. Martin Luther King Jr. might have longed for it, might have hoped for it one day, but could it have seemed more than another dream to him, as he pondered what the future might hold? Certainly, he would be pleased to see it. Certainly we should all marvel at how far our country has come.

The Rev. Dr. King is a singular figure in the midst of our nation’s long history, but one to be remembered, both for his significance as a symbol and a force, and for the actions and character of the man himself. He gave of himself, quite literally until the end, to achieve racial equality in a nation divided. His speeches are still remembered today as some of the finest bits of oratory to grace the scene, and his cry for non-violence is one that shall be forever engrained in the psyche of the nation. It is for all these reasons that King will be spoken of in schools today, and the government takes a day in memoriam.

Yet his is a conversation not to be contained to time or place. The fight for equality goes on, but so too does hatred, and one of the best weapons we can put against it is this: History. Remembrance. So with that in mind, it pleases me to have for you today an infographic dedicated to the life of a great man, summing up better than my mere words could suffice, and all thanks to the gracious contribution of one Allison Morris.

Read, learn, and remember how the United States has grown:

The Importance of MLK Day

Infographic care of: Allison Morris and Online College Courses.

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Of War, Symbols, and Bin Laden

“All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones.  In my opinion, there never was a good war or a bad peace.  When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by arbitration?”
~Benjamin Franklin

This week’s quote, and thoughts on war in general, was stirred by an event that took place late last night, stirring a great many cheers across this nation. Not long before midnight here, on the east coast of the United States, President Barack Obama came on the news to announce that Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, responsible for the deaths of thousands of world citizens, was dead at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals.

The news broadcast images of crowds cheering all across the country. Played old images of the Twin Towers, the screams, the horror, the tears. Showed soldiers on the march. Flags waved, and America howled.

In the streets, and on Twitter, an old cry arose: “Mission Accomplished,” the short-lived and infamous words of the Bush Administration. But therein should come the caution. War still drums on, dear fellows, and a man is just a man. A bullet may put a body to the sand, but it does not end a war. It does not raise a white flag, and usher us all to quiet and to calm. Perhaps it lures one into false senses of security, helps one forget but…Bin Laden is not powerful as a man, he is powerful as a symbol. Those that would declare a war over for the death of one man in a network of hundreds…I do not understand it. It is beyond me.

And in that regard, I end with the sign off I had from twitter last night: Symbols are powerful things. Their creation. Their destruction. But remember—the symbol is never the sum. Cheer, but do not call the battles won.

To make a Mark…

“Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” ~Barack Obama

“If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.” ~Alex Noble