By Natasha Blakemore-Evans | January 11, 2018
The United States of America is by far one of the most diverse nations in the world, so you might find it somewhat alarming that, even in 2018, many Americans continue to struggle with the concepts of tolerance and acceptance as it relates to diversity. Whether physical, socio-economic, or otherwise, differences that exist within the people who make up the fabric of our country, often times, stem great controversy instead of serving to unite us. Different religious practices, to personal belief structures regarding family-life, gender equality, and even political affiliations can create barriers which prevent us from accepting anyone who does not match our own ideals.
As we approach the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I think it is fitting that each of us takes pause to reflect on what the King Holiday truly represents. It’s not just a day out of school or to be off work. Coretta Scott King writes, “The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality.” (The King Center)
Martin Luther King Jr. taught by example that compassion, humility and service to others are the greatest values that each of us can develop. In doing so, we find our own ability to embrace those who are different or chose to live differently than ourselves. It is possible to have an appreciation and respect for people with ideals different than our own. By understanding that differences are what make our world so unique, we can find ways to embrace unity in spite of those differences.
Dr. King’s heartfelt call to every person around the world is to celebrate the values of equality and tolerance by living in unity. Realizing that, at the core, we are all the same; we are all individuals seeking to live, love and find joy. Each of us has a very important role in helping to continue the legacy of Dr. King and to further realize the DREAM that he started so long ago. Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated that “If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships-the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.”