Today, we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and remember his valuable teachings of nonviolence in conflict resolution. This day of remembrance and reflection comes on the heels of tragedy with the recent violence in Tucson, Arizona. Six lives were lost in the violence and many others were wounded, including the target of the attack, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
While this is only the latest reminder that we must remain steadfast in the pursuit of Dr. King’s noble teachings of the principles of love and non-violence, we must not take for granted the advance toward the equality that Dr. King surely would have seen as a continuation of his vision of people being judged only by “the content of their character.” Dr. King often said that “everybody can be great, because anyone can serve.” Now volunteers of any sexual orientation can openly serve in the armed forces, which will without doubt benefit our country with the skills they bring to their service. Their legal acceptance into the institution will also be a difficult but important step to ensuring that another group of people within society will not have to suffer at the hands of intolerance or inequality.
After the assassination of Dr. King, Senator Robert ” Bobby” Kennedy stated: “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another.” Let us hold close these words and set an example to those who would incite intolerance, hatred and violence voluntarily or involuntarily through their words and rhetoric. Dr. King has shown us that progress can be made without resorting to violence, hatred and intolerance for our brothers and sisters.