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Embrace diversity: Living Martin Luther King's dream

Posted 1/13/2009   Updated 1/14/2009 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Alinda Nelson
30th Space Wing Equal Opportunity director

1/13/2009 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- You've heard these words or phrases before ... Bridge Barriers, Strengthen Communities, Drum Major for Justice, Empower Individuals, Unity, Purpose, Value, Justice, Dignity, Compassion ... Sound familiar?

Those are just a few of the things that Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought and strived to accomplish. We celebrate and honor MLK because of the commitment he had to not only "his kind," but to "every kind" of human beings. The dream of equality exists, for me, for you and for our children's children. 

We must keep the dream alive. Empowered by Dr. King's revolutionary spirit, universal and his unconditional love, we can be empowered by the timeless values taught by his example - courage, truth, humility, humility, perseverance, peaceful protest, hope and more. 

Now, our nation must collectively become a country that truly believes and lives by the noblest principles demonstrated by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Did he "walk the walk and talk the talk" to show his words to be credible? A resonating yes!

It was not enough Dr. King put his life on the line for freedom and justice, ultimately paying the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans. 

I challenge you to make this MLK holiday "A Day On, Not a Day Off." The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday honors the life and contributions of America's greatest champion and advocate of racial justice and equality.

Have you ever dreamed of a color-blind society where people are judged "not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character?" Dr. King did. In so doing, he led a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality. 

What is your dream regarding equality? What have you done or accomplished in making it a reality? One ... It starts with one single individual promoting interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. 

The U.S. Air Force has such a rich diversity with people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, we are all part of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream for America.

Some think that the celebration of MLK's birthday is a "black holiday." On the contrary, this is not a black holiday, rather it is a peoples' holiday. MLK's global vision for world peace and acceptance goes far beyond the boundaries of this United States; it encompasses triumph globally over poverty, racism, war and violence. Yes, this peaceful, non-violent, revolutionary man advocated nonviolence. 

He had a vision of human solidarity that transcended race, religion, ethnicity and geographic region. Dr. King insisted that "we are all woven together in a single garment of destiny" and that all faiths have something meaningful to contribute to the "beloved community."

What impact does the MLK holiday have on our "beloved community," Vandenberg? Will this day be a day of remembrance, celebration, education and teaching? In doing so, will we, as Dr. King so profoundly did, be open with the spirit of unconditional love for our community and fellow man? I implore you to follow Dr. King's dream of pledging to serve humanity, promote his teachings and carry his legacy into the 21st Century and beyond.

The call to you is to commemorate this holiday and make it a personal commitment to serve humanity with a vibrant spirit empowering us all to serve humanity. In closing let us be reminded of what Dr. King once said: "We all have to decide whether we will walk in the creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness." Of life's most persistent and nagging questions, he titled one of his four books, "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?"

What are you doing for others? Together, let's make it ... A Day On, Not a Day Off.

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