We struggled with the thought, because we are torn between two seemingly good thoughts. On one hand, we recognize and are thankful for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work on a daily basis. Were it not for his voice and his conviction, used by God to accomplish His purposes, our life would look very different. We would be denied the joy of many deep relationships and friendships we have with people of different ethnic backgrounds and we might remain blind to the ugly, hateful sin of racism. On the other hand, we would love to not even have to distinguish between skin color - especially not to a 4-year-old and especially not to a 4-year-old black child living with white parents. He will be confronted with these things soon enough, we fear, but why even introduce a thought that should never exist - not in his mind or anybody's mind - beyond the obvious difference in appearance.
So we were torn, as I'm sure many are, and we're not convinced we did exactly the right thing, but I wanted to put myself out there and share how we approached the situation. I would love feedback from any of you who have addressed this in your homes as well. First, a very helpful friend sent us a biblical way to interpret the holiday and what we were truly celebrating:
1. God made all people equal. K-Man knows his skin color is different from yours. He's not blind. So the emphasis is God's good creation in diversity.
2. Sin in human hearts makes some people think they are more valuable and others less valuable b/c of their differences, which may be skin color or something else.
3. God is in control of all things and where sin grew out of the hearts and into social oppression, God used men and women to stop that oppression. One man he used was named MLK....(Okay, you'll have to be simpler than that.)
4. Jesus died for everyone, no matter what differences there are.
5. Jesus rose from the dead so that one day sin that makes people look at one another because of their difference will never have power in this world again. (New heavens and new earth).
The first thing I did was a total fluke. I signed up to be the Mystery Reader at K-man's school on the Friday before MLK day. It never entered my mind until I pulled up at the school how appropriate the book I had selected was. I read to them Dr. Suess's book, The Sneetches. If you're not familiar with the book, the basic gist is that some sneetches have stars on their bellies and some do not. Based on those stars, a silly interchange takes place over and over as they battle over who is better. When it hit me, I decided I would talk to the kids about pride, and that's what I did. They're 4, but they understand the concept...believe me. I asked them if they knew what it meant to brag. I asked them if they liked when other people thought they were better than everybody else. I asked them what kinds of things might tempt us to think we're better than other people. It was a good conversation, and afterwards I was able to remind them about Monday and about MLK, Jr. who was a man who stood up against pride and taught people that we are all equally important. It was a tough thing to talk about without mention of God, but when K-man and I walked to the car, I was able to bring God into the equation, because we know, of course, that the only reason we're all equally significant is because the Creator made each and every one of us.
So we tried to focus a bit more on the idea of pride all weekend - mentioning MLK Jr.'s name often as a person who God used to point out people's sin in being prideful. On Monday, we tried to make a big deal about MLK Jr.'s birthday from that perspective. We were pleased that at the end of the day, K-man could say the man's name and articulate the basic gist of what we just outlined. Since then, the name has stuck, which I do think is hugely important considering how significant his work is in K-man's life, specifically.
On Monday night, we read a new illustrated children's book that my mom gave us, I Have A Dream. It's a beautifully illustrated version of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech. Now, while reading it, I did realize there were lots of references to race and skin color (clearly), but I think with the way we tried to present it all weekend, it didn't conjure up the same thoughts we were concerned about initially. After reading the book and looking at the pictures, we played the CD of his speech (came with the book) in the background while we ate dinner. It was neat to be able to point out the fact that his speech was riddled with scripture and to point back to our great God who loves His people. It was actually a very sweet day of gratitude for all of us, as we reflected on God's goodness in working through yet another imperfect man to bring about His Sovereign plan.