Modern Day Saint
“No one knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”
There is a reason we didn’t work yesterday. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a modern day Saint. The Saints in my religion are those individuals that are believed to be with God. The status of Saint extends from the merits of the time here on Earth and evidence of posthumous intercession on behalf of those in need. In the Buddhist religion, Saints are called Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas take a vow that dedicates this life and future lives to eradicating suffering. In both cases, Saints seek and find virtuous causes they are willing to die for……and then habitually place those causes ahead of their own interests.
Dr. King attended college first in Pennsylvania, then in Boston. Given his talent and credentials, he could have been a pastor anywhere. He chose Montgomery, Alabama. He was harassed locally and nationally by his own government. From his participation in the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 to his public opposition in the Vietnam War in 1967, Dr. King walked resolutely into harm’s way. The effort was in fact super-human. In my view, a miracle.
St. Francis famously ended the prayer that bears his name, “it is in dying that we are born of eternal life.” Like most Saints, it took us mortals far too long to recognize Dr. King for his contributions while alive and the progress after he left us. It was not until the year 2000, did we formally recognize yesterday as a national holiday. But it is a national holiday now more than ever.
I choose to believe Dr. King would be amazed at how quickly and durably his example made the necessary change in our country. He took Gandhi’s challenge to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” May we all consider what still needs changing and think of Dr. King when deciding how hard to fight for it.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.