What is the measure of a person?
Throughout history humankind’s common struggle has been that fork in the road we all are called to choose – to have courage to speak out against the injustices they see or stay quiet, to go along with the majority and conform, to not risk being bold – to stand for truth in a world filled with many shades of grey.
Lately I have been thinking about what the measure of a person is. I keep coming back to this one key word – true. Do we show who we truly are in that moment of decision, where really standing for it has a personal cost?
These are easy words to write, but much more difficult to live.
Looking at my calendar I noticed that January 18th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Here is a man though imperfect, though flawed as we all are, dared to stand for the truth he believed. He called people to acts of civil disobedience without violence against those who wanted the status quo to remain of division – of inequality. He said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” He spoke the language of love in a world filled with far too much hate.
This quote from Martin Luther King Jr. stands out from all the rest. It is a call to a life of courage in the face of opposition.
“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you want to live longer …. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized, or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that someone will stab you, or shoot at you and bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”
What truth will you decide to live? If Martin Luther King Jr. was alive today what truth would I say I live? I hope it would be that when I saw injustice and inequality, I stood up and let my voice be counted. When I saw people living in poverty, I did what I could to alleviate it. When I saw any person being judged by the colour of their skin, I said that is wrong.
When I was five my grandfather gave me this advice. “Kevin, always stand up for what you believe in. Be a man of your word.” Soon after that, my grandfather died of a heart attack.
My grandfather lied about his age to become an infantry soldier at age 17. He was a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, which is the forerunner of the Canadian Armed Forces. When I would go to visit him, I would hear him cough. With every cough I cried in my heart for his suffering. He had been exposed to mustard gas. My grandfather taught me to stand up for truth. That is why he and his soldier buddies fought for the freedoms we enjoy.
Thank you,grandpa, and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for being men of truth and courage. You are real men by every measure.
Karen Osborne B.A. Christian Clinical Counseling St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, graduate divinity student at Trinity College University of Toronto. D.Sc. in Psychology, St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. Kevin Osborne, B. Th. Canada Christian College & Graduate School. B.A., M.A. Christian Clinical Counseling, M.A-Th.D. Applied Theology student majoring in Psychology St. James University, D.D., D.Sc. Christian Clinical Counseling, Diplomate in Traumatology American Board of Traumatology Examiners of St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, Diplomate in Creative Ministry St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. Kevin Osborne is a member of The Word Guild, which is a Christian writer’s group. Please go tohttps://thewordguild.com for further information.