It’s What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Taught Me

Yesterday I was sitting in the parking lot of Panera with our three boys, waiting for a mobile order of bagels and cream cheese, when Joe Cocker came on singing the Beatle’s “With A Little Help From My Friends.” I was so excited to share that experience with the boys. It was exhilarating to know they’d be hearing this song, sung in this way, for the first time. What a cool experience! Pure passion. Music capable of jolting you to another place. Awesome.

The screen in my car shows pictures when it plays songs. A picture of Joe Cocker came up. He was sweating and contorted. He was singing his heart out in his signature style. Our 11- year-old looked at the picture and did a double take. 

He said, “I did not expect him to look like that!”

I said, “What do you mean?”

He said, “I didn’t expect someone who sings like that to look like that.”

And from the back of the car, our 6-year-old calmly reminded us, “It’s not important what you look like…it’s only important how you treat people.”

We all stopped in our tracks and looked at him. I turned the volume down a bit. We stared at him for a moment with comforted, proud smiles on our faces. 

He shrugged his shoulders, raised one eyebrow, and said, “What, it’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught me…you know, it doesn’t matter what people look like, it matters how we treat each other.”

We all smiled. He got a round of high fives and “attaboys.”. I couldn’t stop smiling, and neither could he.

In 1967, when the Beatles were putting out Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was speaking about seeing “the enemy’s point of view” so that “we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.” Dr. King was teaching us how to see beyond appearances, how to listen to one another with open hearts and open minds, and how to seek to understand one another so that we can fully understand and realize our best selves. 

I wonder, at that time, in his infinite wisdom, as he dreamt about a better world, might Dr. King have been envisioning my 6-year-old son, these years later, hearing, holding onto and sharing his prophetic ideas as they continue echoing over and through the decades? I like to think he was. Now, more than ever, I like to think he was. 

It was wonderful to share a profound moment with the boys yesterday…it didn’t turn out to be the moment I was anticipating, but it turned out to be one that I could only have hoped for…and dreamt about.

In it together for the kids.

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks!

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