By Greg Asimakoupoulos
Special to the Reporter
Nineteen twenty-nine was a milestone year for our nation. Ninety years ago the cost of living (without fear) took-off astronomically. In the year the market crashed, a King had a son who would be known as a prince of peace in a world of continual conflict. In 1968 hate stilled his voice, but not his song.
The haunting melody the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us still echoes in our hearts long after his death. The lyrics of love continue to leap from our lips as we remember his message of tolerance, acceptance and non-violence. As we pack up our Christmas decorations, the unfulfilled prophecy of “peace on earth goodwill to men” still rings in our ears.
Every MLK Day at Covenant Shores, people blend their voices to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” The harmony of the notes pictures the harmony that is possible among nations. Can you imagine a world of diverse cultures, languages and beliefs in which each person contributes their part according to a score that has been carefully orchestrated to include all performers?
A few months ago a group of at-risk youth from a Brazilian barrio toured our town. Included in the variety of songs performed in their native Portuguese, they sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth” in English. It was beautiful. It was harmonious. It was choreographed. It was a glimpse of what can happen when we learn the steps to communicate love to those who are different from us.
Dr. King’s “song” is more than just sing-able. It is danceable. It’s a two-step that requires “give and take.” When we give ourselves to the cause of peaceful cooperation with those with whom we differ, we take the first step. When we take a stand for peace-at-any-price in the war against prejudice, we give our children a chance to see our commitment to being part of a global family.
“Give Peace a Chance” was a bumper sticker slogan of the 1960s. Half a century later, it remains more than a slogan. It’s an indicator of our desire to make Dr. King’s dream a reality. So we must continue to give peace a chance and take issue with injustice. That, too, is a sign that we will not let intolerance and privilege easily coexist with liberty and justice for all.
We simply have to give up on our felt need to defend our feelings of entitlement. Meanwhile, we need to take the needs of others into consideration while navigating the challenges and opportunities we’re dealt. The two-step dance of “give and take” is a natural starting point for demonstrating the peace our world is dying to see.
Remember how the “Let There Be Peace on Earth” song ends? If you do, you know the key to finding global harmony. “And let it begin with me” The end for which we long begins with us. The dream Dr. King bequeathed us will come true only when we take personal responsibility for it coming to pass.
The Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos is the full-time chaplain at Covenant Shores Retirement Community on Mercer Island. He is the faith and values columnist for the Mercer Island Reporter and contributes original poetry each Blue Friday to KOMO news radio.