A Reckoning With Martin Luther King - WSJ



Martin Luther King Jr was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist. He was one of the most influential and inspirational African-American leaders in history.

King attended Booker T. Washington High School, where he was said to be a precocious student. He skipped the ninth and eleventh grades and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta at age fifteen, a popular but unmotivated student.

His family was deeply involved in the church, but King questioned religion and felt uncomfortable with the emotional displays during worship. But that changed when he took a Bible class in his junior year and renewed his faith.

At Morehouse, King came under the guidance of the College President, Benjamin E. Mays who influenced his spiritual development. Mays was a strong advocate for racial equality and encouraged King to see Christianity as a force for social change.

Christianity has been such a force—ever since Jesus’ ministry on earth began. Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, turned the world upside down, changing the status quo, showing what social justice should look like. If we believe in him and follow him, it’s natural that we will want to continue what he started two thousand years ago.

The writings I’ve been sending you are intended to promote a change in the inequal view held towards people with mental health issues. God created us equal and we must demand our rights to be treated as equals. There’s a parallel in how the blacks were treated and how many with mental illness are treated—the lack of rights, the fear with which they’re regarded by many.

King’s story will inspire us. Listen to what he tells us here:

“The soft-minded man always fears change, He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.”

For many, it would be a new idea to treat people with mental health issues in the way they treat others. It might feel uncomfortable. But those who they fear are not unlike themselves. People with mental health issues should be listened to, as others are listened to. Welcomed as equals to the community. Cared for when they need care. Befriended.

In his I Have a Dream speech in August 1963, King said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I have a similar dream. I have a dream that people with mental health issues will one day be judged by who they are on the inside. The symptoms of their illness are not what makes up their personhood. Beneath their exterior is a real person with character traits that could belong to anyone. Inside, we all have a heart and soul, regardless of the presence or absence of mental illness.

…to be cont’d

This has been part 8 of the series, A Voice of One Calling – Read part 9 – Martin Luther King Jr, cont’d.