In spite of all
“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. The Trumpet of Conscience, 1968
Today we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honor the values for which he lived and died. Some will think first of his pivotal role in the American civil rights movement. Some will remember his ministry and his devotion to the Christian faith. Courage in the face of persecution, determined adherence to the principles of nonviolent resistance, and dedication to promoting worldwide brotherhood and justice are foundations of his enduring legacy.
Perhaps the single aspect of his character that inspires me most is the underlying hope that sparked his tireless efforts. His life, as well as the era in which he lived, provided ample reasons for cynicism, despair and resignation, but he refused to be defeated by the darkness.
In a recent post, I mentioned my choice of the word “redemption” as my word for this year. The following words, taken from Dr. King’s famous speech in Washington DC in 1963, link his luminous hope with the promise of redemption:
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations…You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
King was speaking here to those who had been jailed, persecuted and brutalized for their work in the civil rights movement, but his words reach beyond his immediate audience and touch the hearts of many “veterans of creative suffering” facing other difficulties and challenges. In reminding us that suffering brings redemption, he strengthens our spirits and renews our determination to persevere.
Today, whatever problems you may be facing, I hope you will find inspiration in King’s dedication to keeping the dream alive.