Monday, January 19, 2009

An Altered Future

My father died in 1990. He was entirely too young to leave this earth - just 58. He still had banks to save, golf trophies to win, miles of open road to drive, a beautiful wife to see the world with, grandsons to whom we expected he would impart the appreciation of a good book and the thrill of a perfectly caught football pass. A malfunctioning heart re-wrote the story for all of us. In the 18 years since he died, we have often said to our children, "Oh, if your Gramps were still alive..." If your Gramps were still alive you'd play golf, you'd like baseball, you'd love history, and you'd probably want to go to Vanderbilt, even though its football team is not in the Big 12. If your Gramps were still alive, life as you know it might be different. YOU might be different. All the world might be different. Who can't wonder how the world would be different today if Martin Luther King, Jr. had lived to be 80 - the birthday he would have celebrated last Thursday if he'd survived James Earl Ray's bullet in 1968? If Martin Luther King were alive... Have you, like I, wondered if a black man might have been elected president long before 2008 if MLK had lived to see the day? Is it impossible to imagine that a man who drew a racially diverse crowd of 250,000 on the steps of the nation's capitol in 1963...a man who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1964...a man who had the attention of an entire nation as it was beginning to stir from a place of complacency and ignorance about the human race... Is it impossible to think Martin Luther King, Jr. might have been our first black president? Perhaps 30-years ago? And then what? Wouldn't we all be different now? If we'd had 30-years of seeing people as people rather than people of color, wouldn't our sensibilities, sensitivities and sense of realities all be changed? Martin Luther King, Jr. died on April 4, 1968. He was entirely too young to leave this earth - just 39. "Martin Luther King walked so Barack Obama could run," said a child yesterday at 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC. "Barack Obama ran so that all children could fly," said another. Into MLK's future we go...finally. Peace.

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