Sometimes I wonder what America would have become had Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life not been cut short. One of ideas that sounds about right to me is this:
“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be changed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway.” – “Why I’m Opposed to the War in Vietnam
Like it or not, our world is what we make of it. We saw this decades of carelessness resulted in toxic pollution that threatened our own well-being. We could have stepped back and said, “It’s not our responsibility to clean this up, it’s our ancestor’s fault that things got this bad in the first place.” But instead of blaming their Jericho Road for being infamous, they did something about it. They studied. They established new regulations. They got their hands dirty and cleaned up the pollution, bit by bit, area by area. Places that were once dangerous have been made safe.
Neighborhoods, too, have been similarly transformed. When we stopped looking at the news as if it were normal for it’s Jericho Road for things to be so bad and unsafe, people got together, did their homework, created alternatives, focused on education and economic opportunities. They made a difference.
Sure, there’s still a lot of work to be done, it’s easy to say “we’ve made this amount of progress, that’s good enough” … but when one part of our Jericho Road is neglected and left to it’s own devices, then all of it is still a dangerous place to be. Perhaps what was dangerous about MLK, Jr.’s teachings was that he was advocating the sort of change that means sacrifice for the greater good. Most people who are the unsavory element on our various Jericho Roads have a vested interest in keeping things as they are. They won’t take kindly to interference or being challenged. It’s just not enough to be Good Samaritan anymore. We have to do so much more than that if we’re to make something better of our neighborhoods, cities, and countries.