A wet t-shirt contest in a bar in your neighborhood – should you care? After all, it’s for a worthy cause: breast cancer.
A bikini-barista stand in your city, part of a chain judged by Maxim Magazine as among the “sexiest things in America” – so? Sex sells coffee.
The convenience of community casinos contribute to the destruction of the family – but, as alleged by one local business editor, since it’s “only the relative few prone to harmful excess,” what does it matter that we profit from predation of those with this addiction? Gambling helps fund the police department and casinos provide floor space for the chamber to meet.
When does someone else’s business become ours – if ever? Can’t we all just “erase hatred and strife,” embracing “change and tolerance”?
Excerpted and quoted words immediately above are from an article entitled “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner,” by Dr. Alveda C. King in Newsmax, this past August 8. King’s uncle was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who led the civil rights movement and gave “one of the most famous speeches in American history” – the 50thanniversary of which we will remember on August 28th.
Highlighting the historical “March on Washington,” King’s “I Have a Dream” speech contained this most famous line, this most oft quoted passage, this most remembered statement that in truth summarized his entire life, a one-liner that went like this:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
This was King’s signature statement indicating unmistakably that for which he stood; that which prompted all his actions; the source, the fountainhead, the headwaters, from which emanated and dispersed and flowed all for which he was and is remembered; and that for which he would ultimately pay with his life: “the content of their character.”
Underline (three times), highlight and put in all caps those last five words.
Because it is a grave mistake to celebrate Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus; or to use as a marker of success the numbers in the crowd, estimated at a quarter of a million people who marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial that August day in 1963 where they heard King’s all-of-17-minutes speech; or to point to any other cause célèbre or activity to which they or any persons throughout history are remembered – for which they may have even given their lives – as reason enough why we should have a national day set aside in their honor.
How are Rosa Parks Day and MLK Day any different from National Rice Pudding Day, August 9? Or National Race Your Mouse Day, August 28? And, if today is a downer that could be because August 8 was National Happiness Day. Perhaps you missed it but, as Chad and Jeremy sang, “that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.”
They’re different because it’s not about stuff. Nor is it about stuffing, as in our face, a holiday for bar-b-ques.
Whenever conduct – good, bad, or indifferent – trumps character, you can get a fan-following: Lady Gaga for example, “reigning queen of pop,” who champions the gay movement; who was invited to President Obama’s latest inaugural ball; and who recently produced a video in which “Gaga can be seen posing naked in a forest, pressing crystals against her naked body, and yelling.”
Whenever position – presidential, any level of political including dog-catcher – supplants principle, you can ride the wave of popularity and get elected, and re-elected, by those who value power at any cost.
And, I argue, you can also host a wet t-shirt contest, sell coffee while mostly naked, and profit from a predatory industry, but at what price?
Simply because we can doesn’t mean we should.
“In the course of time,” wrote George Washington in his Farewell Address, in the hands of “unprincipled men” much – even an entire nation – can be lost.
Speaking of public servants, in his recent column entitled “Character Counts in Elected Officials,” David Limbaugh wrote “If we care about the republic we have to care about the character of its public officials.”
With character, the cause will take care of itself. Lacking character the cause hardly matters. Character sustains in the Birmingham jail. Character is a cause all in and of itself.
Not the cause but character is what’s needed in our communities, cities, and country today.
It’s character that matters.