January 16, 2006
Most people commemorate Martin Luther King Day by pointing to progress in the field of civil rights since his death, or the lack thereof. That mode of discourse is well and good, but eventually it is going to grow terribly stale, until we finally lose any remaining appreciation for what his struggles meant for this nation. What I would like to emphasize is the astounding transformation he achieved by opening people's minds to previously outlandish possibilities. Like the heroic liberal-minded patriots during the American Revolution, who practically created new rights out of thin air just be declaring them to be "self-evident," King literally created a new social reality in the 1960s by his gift of prophecy and his force of will. Is there any reason why we can't be stirred from our complacent, conformist slumber here in the early 21st Century, and break the bonds of conventional wisdom that keep us trapped in boredom, mediocrity, anxiety, and despair? No, there is not.