Posted by: morgan1965 | January 11, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr: The Epitome of Moral Leadership

Where are our moral leaders today?

America annually honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by observing his birthday (January 15, 1929) with a national holiday. Martin Luther King was reared in a Christian home. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a dedicated lay worker in the church. King and his siblings attended Sunday School regularly. His parents taught him basic moral standards which provided a solid foundation for the development of his personal ethical posture in life.

During his leadership of the modern civil rights movement, King who became an ordained Baptist minister, adopted two ethical/moral standards. First, he embraced love as the regulating ideal for the civil rights movement. Second, he utilized the technique of nonviolent resistance as a strategic tool for resisting the forces of racial segregation and discrimination. King, of course, was a Christian who sought to follow the teachings of Jesus in his public and private life.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. was preparing to give his “I Have a Dream” speech, A. Phillip Randolph introduced him as the “moral leader of our nation.” King gave his address while standing in the shadow of one of America’s great moral leaders, President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln used his moral leadership in the effort to preserve the union. A century later, King’s moral leadership was at the center of the civil rights movement and the effort to end racial segregation in America.

The nations of the world always have needed moral leaders. Reinhold Niebuhr in His book, “Moral Man And Immoral Society” (1932) argued that there is a “basic difference between the morality of individuals and the morality of collectives, whether races, classes or nations.” We see this concept play out when the U.S. Congress seeks to eliminate Obama Care or health care for the poor. Another example is a tax bill that further enriches the wealthy, rather than provide financial help for the poor and the middle class. It takes moral leaders to lead a political movement that seeks to do the right thing for the good of all the people in the nation.

Who are our moral leaders?

When we look at the world scene, we can identify several moral leaders in our history, past and present: Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Abraham Lincoln, Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam and Fannie Crosby as well as others who could be named. Moral leaders lead from their core values that our couched in their faith. We need today’s moral leaders to stand up, and provide moral leadership.

Martin King’s letter (“The Nation,” February 4, 1961) to newly-elected President John F. Kennedy called for a more inclusive America. King envisioned that there would be strong moral leadership on the part of the president, and federal government that would take a stand for right. Among other things, King said: an “area in which the President can make a significant contribution toward the elimination of racial discrimination is that of moral persuasion. The President is the embodiment of the democratic personality of the nation, both domestically and internationally. His own personal conduct influences and educates. If he were to make it known that he would not participate in any activities in which segregation exists, he would set a clear example for Americans everywhere, of every age, on a simple, easily understood level.”

John F. Kennedy stood up as a moral leader and gave meaningful leadership in the civil rights arena. It is obvious that we are lacking this kind of moral leadership today in the executive branch and the legislative branch of our federal government. There are so many moral issues that face America: civil rights, voting rights, economic opportunities, etc. But who are our moral leaders? Please stand up, and give moral leadership.

Bishop William J. Barber (President, Repairers of the Breach) has called for a moral movement in America, and he is leading a campaign to coordinate a variety of state-based moral movements across the country. “Its overarching aim is to call on clergy, lay people and all people of conscience to join together to put a human face on poverty in this country, reawaken America to its higher moral purpose and build steadfast unity in defense of our most cherished Constitutional and moral traditions.” Such a movement will require our faithful participation in the places where we live, work, play and worship.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was born on January 15, 1929, and began the journey that brought him to a place of moral leadership in America. We thank God for Dr. King, the epitome of moral leadership.

But, where are our moral leaders today?

Think About It!




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