To Martin Luther King, Jr. (second letter)

Dear Reverend King,
I dreamt of you recently and still remember it clearly.  I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget.  You met me after I rose for work.  I was getting on the bus and you were the driver.  You smiled at me, placing your hand on mine as I tried to put my fare in the slot.  Everything was suddenly quiet, still, then you spoke to me and the other riders:
Each of you is now forced to consider social change, human nature and the end of the world in your lifetime, regardless of your station. With this comes the essential responsibility of maintaining, despite the harshest and most hostile of conditions and possible retaliatory measures, a calm and loving dignity.  In this you must not waver if you are to find answers honestly, establish a common good and avoid destruction.  The malevolence of these times must not be yours.  Not everyone beyond yourselves is opposed to contesting the reduction of human agency to a seizing of opportunities given by the marketplace. Accept goodwill when it is extended.
The future will be made by all of you, whether you attempt to involve yourselves in its making or not.  Become a conscious historical agent.  Be open to making mistakes and learning from them.  Commit yourselves in word and action, despite your fallibility.  Embody the calm dignity of your aspirations.  Be yourselves despite the circumstances.  It is ultimately not your natures that are at stake, but the world within which you must act.  Remember that this will not be your victory alone.  All of Life will celebrate.  Be quiet but friendly; proud, but not arrogant; joyous, but not boisterous.  Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend.
Influencers/founders/propagators of the way things are will cooperate in helping you occupy the field of the present, if only because they assume you will perpetuate what already exists.  Do not deliberately stand with any of them unless there is no other option.  For the first few days be with a friend, in whose temperment you have confidence. You can uphold one another with any casual conveyances of faith at your disposal.  If another is being molested, do not abandon your position to go to his or her defense.  Pursue the potential transformation of the oppressor in carrying on the struggle for justice.  According to your own ability and personality, do not be afraid to experiment with new and creative techniques for achieving reconciliation.  If you feel this is all too much for you, think on it for the moment.  Engage from where you are now.  I have confidence in you no matter what.
Then I woke up, got out of bed and caught the bus to work.  I’ve been meaning to thank you – really thank you — for being with me here and now, for everything, ever since.

 

I mean to and know how.  I will write again of course.

jeremy