King’s Day

Sometimes it is wonderful to look back and see how far we have come. On the other hand, sometimes all we can see is how far we still need to go. Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, I saw and felt I both directions.


When I was teaching school and I would talk about slavery and our civil rights history, students would inevitably ask, “Why did they put up with that?”

The causes and cures of society’s wrongs are usually complex when the experts talk about issues. Kids are much more direct and so they asked why it took so long. My answer was, “Times change– but slowly.”

I’ve lived a long time and change does happen but we also are marked by history. During World War Two, there were no Orientals in my school. In college, one of my best friends told me how her family was held at gunpoint and loaded onto a truck in the middle of the night. She spent the war years in an internment camp in Idaho.

I have no real answer for why Californians allowed the Japanese Americans to be put behind barbed wire. My friend felt it was financial envy and she retaliated by getting wealthy on her school teacher’s salary.  When she retired she was worth well over two million dollars.

The rest of us girls spent our energy looking for a man to depend upon. Women’s lives have changed so much it is difficult to explain why I dropped out of school at 18 to get married. I can only say that’s what girls did in my day.

There was a time in this country when blacks and whites had separate schools, lunch counters and very different treatment under the law. Each year, we see our history on King’s birthday. For a few minutes, we hear the brilliant words of Dr. King and watch a few clips of nasty old men shooting water hoses at children.

I am old enough to remember those days of conflict. I even marched in a few parades, broke some color barriers when choosing friends and lovers and was mildly on the side of the Angels. But I was no hero, I was simply a part of the changing consciousness of America.

That is what happens, of course. Enough individuals change their minds and the culture changes.  One of the things I remember Dr. King talking about was the silence of the “good” people. I think the good people, including myself, are still quite silent in this country. Like most of us, I am aware that the unemployment rate is much higher among blacks than whites. I also know that the jails have more minorities than can be proportionally expected.

Above all, I am aware that schools are dreadfully under supported – especially in poor neighborhoods. Then there are all those home workers, mostly of Mexican descent ,who are underpaid with no social security being put into the system.

I believe that prayer works so I am proposing a program of prayer to speed up the inevitable social changes you and I desire come faster. If you want to march or write letters or run for congress, yourself, I support your need to act on that level, as well. But prayer does work and if we have a systematic program of prayer, it will help.

Please take a good, clear look at what is going on with people who have less power in today’s society. Then pick one group and pray for them on a daily basis. I’d love to hear what group you are praying for so please make a comment on this blog. Or not.

What I am imagining is that we blog readers select a group that we want to see emerge into the light and pray for their highest good. We don’t have to outline what the changes are or the way the changes come about. We just need to see the people as God – perfect, whole, and complete – created them for a few minutes each day.

Make sure your thoughts are positive and optimistic. It does no good to play the “ain’t it awful,” game. For example, instead of fuming about the latest budget cuts, imagine every child in a happy classroom with food in his belly and a kind teacher to guide her. Imagine this school as a place of joy and learning. You can call it the Ernest Holmes Middle School.

Schools are the easiest to pick, of course. Who doesn’t love a child? But what about the young people in jail? They were children not so long ago. Can you see them surrounded by love and light? Can you see them getting the care they need and the opportunity to change and grow?

One thing I know is that when times change, most people are happy about the improvements. If you believe in prayer, then why not take a small step in the direction of progress by praying?

Why not spend a few minutes in the morning praying for something besides your new pair of roller skates?

If you join my Martin Luther King Day Program, you will no longer be one of the silent people. You will be talking to God on a daily basis.. Just extend your consciousness enough to pray for the schools or jails or domestic workers. Or whatever group you choose.

Your prayers may not be the complete answer but they will be a part of it. Not all black people sat in at the lunch counters. Not all ministers made speeches and went to jail. You can be one of the supporters of change and that is a good thing for you and the people you pray for. Don’t you want to be on the side of the Angels?


Ask Yourself

What group do I want to pray for?

When can I find time to imagine the best for them?


One Comment on “King’s Day”

  1. Linda Finley says:

    Beautiful Jane… Not sure who I will choose, but I commit to daily prayer!

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