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Let us pause to honor the sacrifice

This week, many Americans celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., who preached both an unceasing struggle against prejudice and discrimination and use of non-violent methods to win the battle.

King’s high-profile leadership cost him his life. Others perished, too, during the struggle for civil rights.

Institutionalized racism and other forms of bigotry, such as those based on religion, have virtually disappeared from our nation.

Sadly, some hearts and minds remain tainted by biases.

It is worth remembering that while King was engaged in a practical struggle — to ensure all are viewed equally under the law — his dream was far more encompassing.

His idea of the promised land was a place where “all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing …”

In other words, King wanted an America in which equality was in our hearts, not just our statute books.

We see evidence frequently that we as a people have a long way to go if we are to achieve that. It will not happen in the lifetimes of most of us.

But our children?

Our grandchildren?

Is it possible that when they are adults of our ages, prejudice will be relegated to the pages of history books?

Will everyone around them judge fellow human beings by their character, not by some irrelevant feature such as skin color, religion or national origin?

Let us hope and pray so.

But at the same time, let us remember that as long as the battle rages, we have parts to play in it. How — or whether — we pursue King’s dream will be taken note of by our children.

Let us pause to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and others who sacrificed much — and then, pray for at least a semblance of the strength they displayed.

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