Two days after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, still cringing from the hyper-nationalism of his inaugural speech, still yearning for rhetoric more truthful and hopeful and universal, I stood in the cold rain at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC. I found solace here, for it is a monument dedicated to a man who didn’t brag about his real estate, didn’t talk much about himself, didn’t routinely insult others, and didn’t tell falsehoods to a cheering crowd.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who, when he spoke of God, spoke from a prophetic tradition and with a prophetic thirst. His understanding of God shaped his politics and his person. It seemed to be the foundation to his worldview, which was oriented toward justice, not a prop in his politics.
Even in the wet, gray, and cold, the words of Martin Luther King Jr., inscribed around the memorial, offered some light. They were a link to some of America’s greatness, some of its best hopes. They were from the mind of one who knew his path would never take him to the White House, but might, as it did, take him to an early grave. They were from the mind of one whose vision was wide, rooted in solid ground.