As the first snow of the new year dusts the lawns of our quiet suburb, I am reminded how fortunate we are to live in the here and now. Like the majority of businesses and schools, I am off in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For some, it may mean nothing more than a long weekend, but to many others, it is an opportunity to honor not just a man who had a tremendous impact on our nation, but an invitation to carry on the vision he proposed to future generations.
King has been labeled everything from a sinner to a saint. Like all humans, he was fallible. His successes were wrapped in failures, and vice versa. We do not hold him up because he was perfect; we do so because he held strong and steadfast to his convictions for a better world. He was on a singular mission that still resonates across time and nationality. It was a path towards peace, justice, and equality for all men and women. He was a steward and spokesman of this undertaking, and knew full well that his work would never be done.
This journey continues on to this day, and will do so indefinitely, for life will always present us challenges to overcome. Gains have been made in this struggle for basic human and civil rights, but they have come at a great cost. Those advances have also suffered great setbacks, and, as Americans, we are far from reconciling and rectifying those wrongs done to our fellow brothers and sisters.
Discrimination still abounds in every corner of our society, whether based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability. Women still only earn 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. People of color are still incarcerated at disproportionate rates to whites. State institutions are still trying to deny individuals the right to marry whom they love. Political figures are calling for bans targeting specific religious groups. Fear, hatred, and ignorance are not things of the past, and we still have many miles to go before we can claim victory over any of them.
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