About 4,000 years ago, a man began a thought revolution that fundamentally altered the fabric of humanity forever.
That man was the biblical patriarch Abraham. He introduced the (then) radical concept that there is only one God. In a world filled with pagan idol worship, this idea was quite unpopular. But thousands of years later, not many people think that worshipping wood or stone is meaningful, and most of the world’s population believes in one God. Monotheism is a given in our times.
So many ideas that we take for granted today were once shunned and rejected by society. We forget how brave the men and women were who stood their ground on what they knew was moral and true. It’s easy to forget that people used to believe that the world is flat, that women should not vote, and that slavery is perfectly acceptable. We owe a debt of gratitude to the people who challenged the status quo and succeeded in changing it.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who we remember this week, was one such person. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that segregation was ever accepted in America. America – the country founded on the idea that all people have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” America, whose founding fathers believed that all people were created in the image of God. But it was accepted – and widely practiced. It took incredible faith to believe that things could be different and extraordinary courage to work for that change.
The blessing of my generation is that we were born into a world where so many battles were already fought and won for us. We enjoy the fruits of the labor of those who came before us. I came into a world where the state of Israel was already a reality, segregation was completely unacceptable, and women had more rights than ever in history. With the help of God, men and women of the past painstakingly changed our world for the better.
But the blessings of my generation also come with immense responsibility. Humanity has come so far, but we still have further to go. Racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination still lurk and strike the innocent. Women are horribly mistreated in many parts of the world. Poverty, war, and strife are still the reality for too many of God’s children. As the beneficiaries of the work put in by previous generations, it our duty to continue this work for the sake of future generations. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not just about remembering a great man, it’s about continuing his legacy by spreading the biblical values of kindness, justice, and equality.