“…I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

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. I have a dream today.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on August 28, 1963, Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C…

This week in my music classes at school I had lessons prepared about Martin Luther King, Jr. It seemed more important than ever to teach about him and his lessons. My lesson was rooted in the idea of being peacekeepers and peacemakers.

How can you be a peacemaker or peacekeeper?

I asked all of my students how they – at whatever age they are – can be better peacekeepers and peacemakers. The list is great and worth sharing here. Here is what my students – grades K -6 – define as peacekeeping and peacemaking activities.

  • Taking Turns
  • Being Kind
  • Asking new friends to eat lunch
  • Playing with people who look lonely
  • Asking people if they are ok
  • Make friends with people who are different from you
  • Using nice words
  • Include everyone
  • Talking to someone who is alone
  • Asking questions
  • Don’t hurt kids (also variations include avoiding kicking, hitting)
  • Not separating people because of their skin color
  • Help other people
  • Try to love others
  • Being nice to your brothers and sisters

That’s a solid list. All of those things seem doable. We adults need to do a better job of choosing things on this list.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with so much hateful rhetoric and anti-ism (Black, LGBTQ+, Jewish, women, and more) it seems more important than ever for every single one of us to make an active effort to be peacekeepers and peacemakers. Dr. King gave his “I have a dream” speech almost 60 years ago. We aren’t there yet. All people aren’t equal in this country. The United State of America is still a place that can be dangerous if you are Black, Brown, a woman, or identify as LGBTQ+, have disabilities, etc.

It is our responsibility to do better. As spiritual seekers, which you are if you find yourself reading this blog, we have a moral obligation to do better. Not only should we make a commitment to not cause harm, but we should also make a commitment to stand up to those trying to cause harm.

When I say cause harm, I’m obviously talking about causing physical harm. But there is more. If we support and enforce policies that cause harm, that cause separation, that disempower people, that limit rights of groups of people that is also causing harm. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, you are white and straight.

If this feels threatening to you, makes you angry, or has you wanting to unfollow me – before you do – I’d ask you to ask yourself, WHY does being a peacemaker or peacekeeper feel this way to you? Why is it wrong for you to be inclusive? Why is equality a bad thing?

Could it be rooted in a lack-mentality (not enough to go around) or fear of someone different? If so… those are things you can adjust and learn a new way.

There IS enough to go around. The universe is abundant. Only love is real. If you don’t yet believe that but you WANT to believe it, you are in the right place.

I love you. I believe Black Lives Matter, science is real, water is life, no one is illegal, women’s rights are human rights, diversity makes us better and love is love. I accept you. I want you here.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I invite us all to spend a few minutes reflecting on who we want to be. Which side of history do we want to be on? There is no such thing as being neutral. As one of my readers, I implore you: be an upstander not a bystander. Speak out and stand up for what is right.

These kids ages 6 – 12 already have it figured out. We can do this. By the way, the quote from Dr. King is linked to a transcript of his whole speech if you are interested.

All my love,

Brenda

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