What if …
If the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had not been assassinated 40 years ago at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., how would the world be different today if he were alive?
That’s a question many are asking as people around the world observe the anniversary of one of the darkest chapters in this nation’s history. Although it’s just one question, there are many possible answers.
His children’s lives would have turned out differently. They know that because he would have been able to teach them and guide them from childhood to adulthood.
King would not have been able to solve all the racial problems that continue to plague this nation, but he would have worked with others to solve some of them. He would have continued to preach against war, injustice and what he likely would have characterized as a decline in moral values.
Some of today’s music, literature and movies would have made him speak out about their inappropriate influence on young people. He would prefer people look to God for courage and hope instead of turning to drugs and alcoholic beverages for courage and hope.
King, no doubt, would oppose the war in Iraq. He would see the war as similar to the war in Vietnam.
King’s views on the Vietnam War resulted in an increase in the number of enemies he had.
Those words inflamed many Americans against King. He didn’t care. His convictions ran deep. For King, if speaking the truth caused pain, then so be it. Pain is part of the healing process.
King biographer David Garrow, in a story by The Associated Press, said he believes King would not have run for public office. Garrow also believes, as others do, that King’s influence was diminishing at the time of his death and he had reached the apex of his public life.
Of course, any discourse about what King would or would not have done is pure speculation. It’s more than sad that he’s not here to tell us what he would do to make this world a better place.
This we do know: King left a legacy that must be nurtured so it can live on.
His son, Martin Luther King III, perhaps said it best when it comes to understanding his father’s legacy.
The man is dead, but his message lives.
That means there’s hope for the world.