Yesterday, I joined nearly 30,000 people in Sacramento’s MLK365 March for the Dream. The purpose of the march was to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as bring together people from diverse backgrounds to inspire positive change in our communities and our world.
At the end of the march, as I was walking around the Sacramento Convention Center, I struck up a conversation with a young man who also participated in the event. He said the march gave him hope he had not felt during most of the past year. He mentioned that he’d felt a sense of despair since last summer’s Charlottesville rally in which Klansman, neo-Nazis and various militias chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans, and America’s highest political leader claimed those who marched with them included “very fine people.”
I let him know that I understood where he was coming from. But he was surprised when I suggested that such an upsetting event can be a good thing.
“How could that be?” he asked.
I responded by saying such incidents can serve as evolutionary triggers to wake us up to our true nature as spiritual beings. They remind us to take whatever action is needed to help us realize we are all part of one spiritual family.
Sometimes, we are so close to events that we don’t see the whole picture. To get a more expanded point of view, it is necessary to step back and look at the situation from a different vantage point.
H. Emilie Cady, in her book Lessons in Truth, reminds us, “Behind all the multitude and variety of [negative] human experiences there is a master mind that sees the end from the beginning. If we do not know it, we become discouraged.” In other words, even in a seemingly negative circumstance, there is a spiritual vision and a plan that is waiting to catch our attention. But we must be co-creators to manifest it.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted that, “The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Sometimes a movement toward justice emerges out of a tragedy. I recently shared the story of Emmett Till. In 1955, Emmett, a 14-year-old resident of Chicago, went to spend time with his relatives in Mississippi. While in Mississippi, he was tortured to death, his body mutilated and his faced disfigured beyond recognition, for something he did not do. At his funeral, Emmett’s mother, who wanted to make sure her son did not die in vain, removed from his head the bag that covered his mutilated face. Photos of his body were seen in every major news publication in America and across the world. Needless to say, this shocked the nation. On top of that, the men who were accused of his murder were acquitted after just 67 minutes of jury deliberation.
Devastated by what she saw on the television as well as the acquittal, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat and sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. That boycott is considered the start of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States that was led by Dr. King.
I mention the Emmett Till story to serve as a reminder that unsettling events, such as the ones mentioned by the young man I met at the MLK365 March this weekend, do not have the final word. We do.
They point out what is ours to do in this world. If we want to create a world that works for all, we, like Dr. King, must do our part to help bend the arc of the universe toward justice in our own unique ways.
Peace and Blessings,