DEAR READERS: Happy Independence Day! This is the day so many years ago when our country proclaimed its freedom. For many, it was a happy day. For some, freedom remained elusive. Today, in 2020, our country is grappling with this notion of independence and what it actually means for all citizens. The contemplation is worthwhile even if it can be difficult.
At times like these, I think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He added, “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Isn’t that precisely what we have been witnessing in these past few weeks?
A change began with the sheltering in place that the threat of the insidious disease of COVID-19 brought to our shores, homes and families. For three months, we have had to be still, to take refuge in our homes and in each other. During the stillness of the quarantine, I have spoken to many people who have said that this has been a time for deep reflection and soul searching. These questions -- "What is important to me?" and "What do I truly value?" -- have resonated in many hearts.
And then, just as the quarantine began to be lifted, the deep scar of racism once again showed its ugly head. But this time, people from coast to coast and the world over stood up and said, “Enough is enough.” The outcry for human decency is the shot that rang around the world this time. The call for the end to racial injustice and the senseless profiling and killing specifically of black people has punctured the hearts and minds of most, if not all of us.
As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This time, "everywhere" is literally a global experience. So, what are marchers seeking? What are corporations, educational institutions, community centers and families hoping to accomplish as they look with greater scrutiny at the way we treat each other? If you listen closely, you will hear that they are rethinking their policies, evaluating the ways in which they engage their employees and customers, reconsidering curricula to be more inclusive, and refreshing their human resources policies. I believe that at the core of these discussions is common decency and respect for humanity. Simple yet profound. I believe that this notion of independence that our country was built upon is the promise of respect for all at the very depth of our being.
Yes, it pulses in the streets and boardrooms right now as “Black Lives Matter.” That makes some people uncomfortable. But the reason it is a rallying cry is because black lives have been considered expendable since the founding of our country. That needs to end. The new vision that can guide us into the future is one where everyone is valued. Everyone is considered worthy of enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To get there is going to require an unmasking of inaccurate beliefs and deeply ingrained false narratives, as well as an openness to truly seeing each other for who we are.
Justice is rolling down like waters, as Dr. King said. It’s time to learn how to ride the waves into a space of freedom for all.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)