We are living in turbulent times gripped by a worldwide pandemic, dealing with racial injustice, unemployment levels not seen since the depression, burgeoning homelessness, food scarcity and the lack of adequate healthcare for not only our most vulnerable but more and more the so called middle class. Through it all we are trying to navigate these tough times with a leadership that is bereft of empathy and looks to divide rather than unite.
Yet despite these troubling times the last week has brought something remarkable. We are seeing a significant portion of Americans coming together, refusing to allow themselves to be torn apart by the devise minority that sadly refuses to let go of the hate in their heart. Those that seem to exist on hate. I call this The Coalition of the Righteous and it is growing more powerful everyday. As a people we appear to finally listening to each other . To be willing to put aside our differences and to take the first steps as a society to understand each other.
For myself personally I have been experienced racism and seen the ugly side of policing but I have also been fortunate to say I have friends of all colors, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations.
I grew up attending a grammar school 95% Italian in the little Italy section of the Bronx, during a time when tolerance was not the word of the day. Yet I made life long friends I met there. We do not look like each other, we do not share the same culture but we do share a bond of brotherhood. We have always been our own Coalition of the Righteous and each of us is keenly aware that above all we can count on each other and we are not afraid to say we love each other. In my darkest days, when my heart literally stopped beating, when my recovery was long and hard they were right there. I did not have to ask them to be, I did not have to wonder if they would be, they were my family so I knew they would be.
We don’t look alike
We don’t share the same culture
We are brothers
The Coalition of the Righteous – it’s a beautiful thing.
I may not get there with you.
Just seven of the four thousand one hundred and seventy-one words in Martin Luther King’s Jr. I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech. That speech would be the last one he ever delivered as he was assassinated the very next day at the young age of 39. There are so many speeches and quotes uttered by Dr. King that have personally motivated and inspired me to be a better person. But those seven words, above all others, have always had a special meaning to me.
Dr.King delivered those words in a speech to support a strike by 1,300 sanitation workers, mostly African-American men, who were protesting the horrendous working conditions, poverty-level wages, and the city’s refusal to recognize their union, sadly issues that are still prevalent today. With those seven words, Dr. King told the world he was aware his own life might very well be cut short because of his crusade to force America to abide by the words on which it was founded. That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. But he was not afraid to die. Not because he embraced death, not because he wanted to die. Because, as he said in his own words, our lives begin to end when we stay silent about things that matter. So on that night, he refused to keep silent; he told everyone in Memphis, Tennessee that night that now was not the time to turn back out of fear. Now was the time to press on down the path of righteousness even if that path was fraught with inherent dangers. That they could not sit quietly in fear and accept the injustices they were being subjected to, it would be unconscionable to do so. Today we celebrate his birthday, and I ponder what humanity could accomplish, what heights we could reach, where we may already be if each of us had even a fraction of the resolve and courage that Dr.King had to do what was right despite what it may cost us personally. I may not get there with you – just seven words but seven words that still resonate loudly today.