OPINION: In Celebrating MLK, Focus On the Light of Good News Ahead

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

Being celebrated for the 35th time nationwide this year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. life and words are as important and illuminating today as they were when he proclaimed in his final speech in 1967.

There has been a lot of darkness in our world in the last year. We have all felt overwhelmed  working from home while making sure our child is engaged in their home schooling or worrying about the health of a relative in a long-term care facility, wondering when will our interrupted lives regain some sense of normal.

On top of this, our politics seems to be on the verge of going to a place where there is no return, exemplified by domestic terrorists storming the citadel of democracy with allegations members of the House had a hand in the planning. 

Worries we have expressed about the violent nature of extremists in American were on display for the world to see, resulting in the death of five people, including a native son of New Jersey attempting to hold back the riotous mob at the U.S. Capitol.

We will admit, we are fearful that the actions on Jan. 6 is a precursor to a more violent political period in our country not seen since Dr. King’s time

But we choose to see the stars in the darkness that have overtaken our world since March 4, 2020. 

We do not know the exact date that life will not seem so heavy. But the endless Presidential campaign is over, the multiple impeachment arguments will come to a close soon and no matter what side you are on, there is hope politicians will use the inauguration of President-elect Biden will move pass political infighting to refocus on the needs of the country.

A coronavirus stimulus bill—driven by centrists of both parties in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives—give us hope that in the coming Congressional term, party will take a back seat to the priorities of the nation. 

And the first priority is getting past the pandemic that has consumed our lives the last 11 months. Even while New Jersey officials are bracing for an expected surge in cases and hospitalizations, the increasing availability of a COVID-19 vaccine provides hope of better days ahead. 

The road will undoubtedly not be smooth, but as Gov. Phil Murphy stated in his State of the State “Everything, together, shows the promise of the new, post-COVID day that is just beginning to dawn. It’s a day we will enter not fearing what’s next, but knowing where we’re heading.”

As we embark on a new Presidential term, we note what Dr. King’s fellow Freedom Rider encouraged. “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America,” said John Lewis. 

May this year be filled with the example of good trouble that John Lewis lived his life by from both sides of the political spectrum, finding nonviolent ways to find solutions to our biggest problems. Both sides will need to work together to bring us to a better place, drowning out the ugly rhetoric and extinguishing the violence of extremism through the power of persuasion and common sense from our fellow citizens.

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