LOOKING at the social pathology in our major cities, it's easy to say that Martin Luther King Jr.'s work was in vain.
But what King's critics must understand is that his work had a spiritual foundation that must be supported by the broad public for it to work.
A dreamer's vision
He had a vision of an America that lived up to its creed: "All men are created equal." He envisioned a brotherhood of all races and ethnic groups coming together to tackle our common problems.
To achieve the kind of society King wanted requires eternal vigilance and continuous commitment to that ideal.
In his visits to Baltimore and other places, King expressed his belief that overcoming racism required active participation of a large segment of the society.
As a student of religion and philosophy, King openly embraced an idea of Immanuel Kant, the unconditional command of conscience.
He knew Wordsworth: "Duty is the stern voice of the daughter of God."
As a minister of the Gospel, combating racism was a spiritual imperative for him. And he fervently believed that in the end, good would triumph over evil.
King's ideas did not fail. But like a law that's not properly enforced, his dream stands incomplete if it remains on paper, not employed by the people.
The Rev. Sidney Daniels is pastor emeritus of Emmanuel Christian Community Church and secretary of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.
Pub Date: 1/18/99