On this national day of remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, I want to take a moment to think about him. He is, in my humble opinion, not only one of the truly great Americans in our history, but he is one of the truly great human beings in all of history. There is so much that could be said. I am thinking about how he stood for human rights – for civil rights of those being denied their basic rights and for the rights of all for peace (his staunch opposition to the Vietnam War). I am thinking about how sorely he is missed today; what a need there is to have others – our politicians certainly – stand up for human rights and fight against forces that continue to oppress people.
And I am thinking about his use of language. I suppose I’m thinking about this both because his use of language was so elegant, so powerful, but also because I’m a psychotherapist and that is the primary medium of my work. Words. Dr. King understood the power of words to educate, to stimulate, and to reach across great divisions to seek commonality and connection. He understood the use of metaphor to say the truly difficult things to say; that things are like something else but different at the same time.
Throughout his work, but certainly in his most famous speech, the “I Have a Dream” speech, he employs metaphor. In fact it is as if that speech rings and resonates (like a bell) throughout the years, louder and more clearly with the passing of time.
Here are some of his words:
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
The words remain so stirring and inspiring. They help me to have faith in language, the ability to say and to have understood what stirs in the human heart and soul. Happy Martin Luther King day to all!