The dreams of MLK
PITTSFIELD — Most men and women will be remembered for their deeds and beliefs for a brief interval and then the passage of time will erase that memory. Even fewer men and women will be remembered as a footnote in history for their achievements and they too will be forgotten. But every once in a while, there comes along an individual who becomes so in-grained in our memories for how they affected our lives that they become part of our collective consciousness, almost an archetype. Mahatma Gandhi comes to mind. Mahatma in Sanskrit means "a great soul."
Dr King or Mahatma King was also such a man.
In a time when bigotry, hatred, racial intolerance anti-immigration and the rise of nationalism is fostered by the current political climate, his message of love, compassion and non-violence is more relevant today than it ever was. It is a message with deep meaning to anyone who has been discriminated against or treated as a second class citizen because of their sex or color of skin, their preference of gender or their country of origin. Anyone who has had their dignity and self-worth destroyed because they just happened to be different.
Why I am telling you this, you might be wondering? How has any of this, you might ask, affected me directly? After all, I am a physician well respected in the community. So let me tell you a story; and part of a poem.
Two summers ago, I was walking across the pedestrian crossing near the BMC hospital cafeteria. For some reason I was preoccupied and took a little longer than I should have. I was startled when a car honked its horn at me. I looked up to see an SUV stopped at the crossing. The driver then proceeded to roll down the window and yelled at me words to the effect "Why don't you go back to where you came from?"
Ordinarily I would have responded with some rude expletives and gestures and what could have turned into a potentially ugly situation. But then I thought "What would MLK do?" Responding in a negative way would have given up my power to this individual and would have fed into her bigotry. So I just smiled at her with as much compassion I could muster and finished crossing the road.
The following is the third part of a poem I wrote for MLK three years ago that was published in The Eagle.
Part III: For MLK
Then there was another King in another time
Who in recent memory also had a dream.
For mothers who would someday see their daughters
Grow up to be doctors and deans of great universities.
For fathers who would see their sons realize a singular vision
In a future of Presidents and statesmen in high offices.
For husbands who would fearlessly embrace their wives,
Far from hunger and shame, in the shelter of their homes.
For women who loved deep and fought hard for their men,
And birthed healthy children into a bright free world.
Once they were Kings and Queens,
In the dream that was America.
Dr. Mehernosh Khan is a Pittsfield-based physician.
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