MLK championed acceptance in America – Champions are needed today as much as ever before.
“History’s choices are not made for the benefit of humans. There is absolutely no proof that human well-being inevitably improves as history rolls along.” -Yuval Noah Harari (author of Sapiens)
Since history won’t do the work for us, it’s up to us, as humans, to make choices benefiting our fellow men and women.
Growing up in America, we’re taught to believe equality and individual freedom are “fundamental values” to humanity.
The interesting thing is these two values directly contradict each other.
“Equality can be ensured only by curtailing the freedom of those who are better off. Guaranteeing that every individual will be free to do as he wishes inevitably short-changes equality.” -Yuval Noah Harari
If individual freedom and equality are opposing forces, then how do most of us hold both of them as the forefront values of our nation’s culture?
The answer is cognitive dissonance, further defined as:
the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change
Cognitive dissonance allows human beings to hold multiple thoughts, such as equality and individual freedom at the same time… Even if at these two concepts sharply contrast.
For those constantly championing individual freedom, maybe MLK’s birthday can serve as a reminder those chasing equality are sometimes actually pushing us further toward equal opportunity (For example, the right to universal healthcare). Not everybody is born into the same opportunities, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to them from a young age.
And for those constantly championing equality, maybe today can serve as a reminder while we are all equal beings, in order to achieve our full potential as individuals (and arguably as a collective society), we still need the right to unleash our entrepreneurial spirit in order to manifest our dreams and generate opportunity for others.
I believe America was built to be a land of equal opportunity. Since the gap in education (often based on privilege) is so large today, creating a level playing field for children will be essential in bringing up the next generation. While we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go… And I do believe it all starts with education.
I acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. for being courageous in his pursuit and unrelenting in his message so much so that decades later his words still inspire thoughts and actions in our hearts and minds.