With children aged 6, 4 and about 16 months old running around there is never a shortage of opportunities to talk about conflict resolution in our house. Today is an especially good day, as it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day AND President Obama’s second inauguration.
We watched the Inauguration this morning (OK, I watched it and the kids played in front of the computer that was streaming it) and we watched the parade this afternoon. We talked about the oaths and the pageantry of the day and also about the fact that the inauguration festivities celebrate the peaceful transition (or in this case, extension) of power. We may not all agree with each other all the time (or at all) but it is possible to advocate for yourself peacefully. And that is something to be celebrated!
We did watch Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech (OK, I watched it while the kids sat on my lap doodling). And we talked about his “Letter From Birmingham City Jail”. Dr. King wrote it from his cell after being arrested (for parading without a permit) when he participated in nonviolent street protests against forced racial segregation. That is kind of a sterile way of saying it. The fact is, Birmingham not only had “the reputation of being the most segregated city in the South, but it had the greatest number of unsolved bombings of churches and civil rights workers’ homes.” So, protesting segregation there was quite brave.
The letter is a response from King to 8 white Alabama Clergymen who had written about the protests in an open letter of their own criticizing Dr. King as “an outsider” and his methods as both “unwise and untimely.”
Read both letters for yourself, here. Dr. King’s letter is fairly long, so when I talked to my kids today about them I just summarized the general idea and then shared my favorite part. Talking about the “interrelatedness of all communities” and why he was in Birmingham protesting when he could have been comfortably in Atlanta, Dr. King wrote:
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Add that to the many reasons why you should never, ever bite your little brother (friend, neighbor, member of opposing party) when he steals your delicious yogurt drink (beer, lawn mower, seat in congress).