Truth is a powerful force. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose life we remember today, knew that well.
King knew the truth of the words written by our nation’s founders in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He also knew the truths that were self-evident, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Yet King knew it was also true that the nation had not lived up to the noble words that gave it birth. His achievement, which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, this national holiday, and the respect of Americans of all races and colors, was to change our view of equal rights from a legal obligation to a moral one. And he did it not by demeaning the views of others; his message was foremost a positive one, appealing to our better nature, our common humanity, the duty we owed one another, and the need to work together to move forward.
Nearly 45 years later after King was cut down by an assassin’s bullet, we often seem to have lost our way. We have drifted from a nation and communities in which all can have an equal say in government, to one in which one side shuts out the other — whether we’re talking about national or state gun legislation, fairness in regulating fisheries, economic development and land use in Gloucester, the future of Conomo Point in Essex, or just about anything else.
As we debate and tackle each of these issues and more, let us remember Dr. King’s message regarding truth, accountability and fair and equal input and access for all. They ring as true today as ever.