Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The New MLK, Jr. Memorial

photo from MLK, Jr. Memorial website.

I wonder what my brother Loren would have thought about the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, DC. Loren dedicated his life to King’s dreams. They were Loren’s dreams, too: a world where freedom, justice and empathy reigned and the American dream of democracy applied to all people.

The new memorial is a huge granite stone out of which King is emerging, arms crossed, kind of half done. Why not a full statue, I wonder? The whole man. Arms open to embrace the world, to embrace all humankind. Sure he was a rock, and he was determined. I understand the metaphor the stone embodies: “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” This was, apparently, the inspiration for the statue.

But I think something more whole would have made a better, a more fitting, monument for the ages. The inspiration might have been “At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.” So many fine quotes from this master speaker and leader. Universal. Transcendent. Humane. King, like Ghandi, Mother Teresa and other visionay leaders, rose above single issues of the time, evolved into spiritual leaders with transcendent values for all time.

I don’t think this memorial rises to the level reached by King and these heroes. I think Loren would agree that this MLK, Jr. memorial is more a symbol of its time, even a retro image of socialist realism, than a splendid icon of humanity for all times.

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