A Grateful Tribute

Born 15 January 1929 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., American religious leader and civil rights activist.

Given the frequently benighted state of religion and politics in America today, one quote from Dr. King should be better known: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Dr. King’s birthday would be a decidedly appropriate occasion on which to ponder the arbitrary and ultimately artificial character of many of the boundaries people and nations spend so much time building and defending. For example, Dr. King was inspired by Gandhi, who was in turn inspired by Thoreau, who at least partly derived his notion of passive resistance from the doctrine of “ahimsa,” or non-violence, that he encountered in his investigation of Buddhist teachings.

My point is that in every moment of our lives we are surrounded by thought lines, the convergence of which find expression in our ideas and actions, even if we are often unconscious of their existence and origins. However, the more we come to understand that we and our society are the products of multiple cultural and historical influences interacting in countless but generally unsuspected ways, the greater becomes the likelihood we will evolve into more tolerant and compassionate beings and thereby move closer to realizing Dr. King’s magnificent dream of universal justice.

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