There was quite a party on the Marietta Square today. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is big in Marietta! Party songs were pumped from the stage early in the morning, soon to be followed by many bands and many more speeches, banners and signs.
As the parade reached its destination, the Square was decked out in its finest with several thousand celebrating people, celebrating the life, message and will power of the most powerful man the world knew in the second half of the 20th Century. (I’d give the 1st half to Ghandi, something I’m sure Dr. King would support given how much he admired and cited Ghandi’s work.) Steadfast, non-violent, irrefutable resolve for the good of human kind. Dr. King’s message lives on.
I had the wonderful experience of being in Dr. King’s presence on a few occasions. His children, Dexter and Bunny (Bernice) and I studied and played together from time to time. Dr. King’s presence was powerful and warming. As great as his presence was his message, his call to hope, his call to action.
It is quite intentional that our firm carries on that work through our philosophy, through the way we treat everyone with dignity and respect, through the way that we steadfastly, resolutely work toward positive change in the family’s dynamics, whether or not the judge or the opposing side ever sees it or understands it.
In his speech delivered April 4, 1967 at the Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. King said, in part, “…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered… A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death… America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.”
I know I run the risk of appearing to use Dr. King to further the firm’s interests, but that is not my intent. My intent it to honor the great man and to show you the source and depth of our values. I know that a family that spends its energy, efforts and resources on war and conflict within that family cannot and will not survive. I know that there is nothing except a tragic death wish that prevents a person from reordering their priorities “so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.” As it is true for our nation, so it is true for ourselves.
I consciously miss Dr. King, probably on a weekly basis, but I hold very dear the uplifting vision he gave us all. I want our firm to live up to his expectations. I want to, too.