…unless one is ready, willing and able to sleep, eat and live as though you are part of humanity at home and around the world, and not self-righteously positioned at the center of it, you will in my view, likely remain at best, just another passing inclusion enthusiast…

Far too many individuals and groups author misplaced determinations about others from a comfortable non-interactive distance.  Those who live in this setting are in some cases comfortably perched upon a non-threatening branch where conveniently affirmed ideas and predeterminations about those who are different are forged.

January 18, 2016, Wisconsin celebrated another Dr. King tribute.  For the production viewed on WPT, heard on WPR, I crafted the follwing narrative based upon the event’s theme, “Stand Up, Stand Out”. 

It was a call to not only reflect on Dr. King’s life, but more importantly, it was a call for each of us to stand up for those in our great nation, who cannot stand up for themselves – the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised.

In the spirit of Dr. King’s dream for America, I invited the audience, watching, listening and attending, to seek ways to embrace the stranger, by traversing to some of our nation’s and our state’s finest moments when we offered hospitality to those who are different in spite of and not just because of today’s lingering hatred of those who are not like us.

Dare to Stand Out as a practitioner of love and a celebrant of others, even in the face of horrific and violent episodes here at home and around the world I stated.  Stand Up and Stand Out against mean-spirited rhetoric, authored for social, religious or political gain.

One of the gifts of being an American citizen I added, is that we are free to argue – we don’t have to all agree.  Discourse is a benefit of democracy.  It is a part of the American landscape rooted in freedom of expression.  Even in intimate settings, I quipped, what would a good old family gathering during the holidays be like without a few spirited exchanges.

However, differing assessments about life’s troubling issues private or public should not cause us to withdraw our commitment to acts of kindness, benevolence, generosity or the offering of love to those whose terrible acts, words and beliefs are an affront to humanity.  Let us not forget that these principles were at the core of Rev. Dr. King’s ministry. 

Let us Stand Up here in Wisconsin by reconciling our differences, our distrust of each other, or those who are different be they women or men in blue, a young man of color walking the streets of his neighborhood-hoodie fully deployed, or an international student walking across campus whose non Western attire definsively transports us to a place where suspicion and fear linger.   

Today, let’s stand up and stand out for women, who played by the way a major role in the Civil Rights Movement, with little tribute then or now. Be they our daughter, niece, sister or wife, let’s make them a priority as Sweet Honey In The Rock sings, a priority in our lives and communities. Lets inspire them to consider a life of leadership as a pathway to improving our neighborhoods and our nation.  Brothers, it is (perhaps) long past time we sit down and let sister’s run stuff.    

I ended my remarks with these words: Let us Stand Up, and Stand Out against hatred, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism or racial discrimination. Today, let’s Stand Up, and Stand Out for efforts that promote “good community” and inclusive values that we who call Wisconsin home, can share in, (celebrate) and invest in.   

As always, your reflections are welcomed.