To the editor:
A couple of reflections about the recent Rev. Martin King Jr. holiday weekend in Lawrence are in order.
The holiday period was bookended by two very positive events: the sixth annual chili feed at New York School Friday night (attended by Gov. Finney) and the stirring performance by Daisy Belle Thomas-Quinney as Sojourner Truth at Liberty Hall Monday night. Both events expressed much of King's message in very different ways but welcomed the observer to participate in the spirit of the occasion.
It was a different matter, however, for the apparently official holiday observance on Monday at Plymouth Congregational Church. In a three-hour service, literally dripping with heavy religious overtones, I felt almost complete exclusion from the proceedings. With precious few exceptions, the audience was pounded by speaker after speaker about the virtues of Christianity. Non-Christians simply had no place at this affair. It is axiomatic to me that established religion can never serve as an effective basis of unification of any broad-based inclusive social movement. I believe that religion is so intensely personal that it cannot be effectively shared through language or any other means.
King's message by itself is so powerful it can transcend the barriers people build around themselves and serve to emphasize the vastness of what human beings have in common.
For those who chose not to participate in any of the holiday weekend's events; perhaps it can be viewed as a betrayal of one's social contract with society not to effectively participate in this event. Society as a whole has deemed the third Monday of January as a time to reflect upon King's dream and decide what you can do to make your society more inclusive for everyone. Please try to participate next year!