Originally posted on MYSPACE (November 5, 2008)
"Cowardice asks, "Is it safe?" Vanity asks, "Is it popular?" Experience asks, "Is it politic?" But conscience asks, "Is it right?" There comes a time when a person must do something, not because it is safe or popular or politic; they must do it because it is right." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tavis Smiley shared this quote during the MSNBC coverage of the election results last night. It really made me think. Tavis talked about growing up in Indiana and how he never thought, growing up in that state as a black kid, that he'd ever see a day where folks in that state would vote for a black man.
I'm from Ohio. And though I've been (thankfully!) spared from seeing most of the venomous hatred that lives in the hearts of some folks from my homestate (um, have you seen the videos?!) if I'm honest, I must admit that I never thought Ohio would vote for a black man either... at least not in my lifetime.
I say this and I'm still relatively young! I wasn't around for the civil rights movement. I don't know anything about separate bathrooms and lunch counter sit-ins. Dr. King has always been a great man in a history book to me. I say this and I was shielded from most of the rough stuff growing up because of the wonderful example set by a strong single mom and the blessing of Affirmative Action. Maybe I was in a bubble...correction, I know I was...but I grew up --even in Ohio -- with a strong belief that I could do and be whatever I set my mind to do and be. Praise God!
But even with all that said... if I'm honest, I never thought I'd live to see the day that we'd have a black man as President. Wow. A black man is our new President! I'm sorta getting off point right now, I know. But my mind is all over the place this morning and I'm trying to process it all.
Back to Dr. King's quote. I think it details what true integrity is. Ever since I've heard it, I haven't been able to shake it. Conscience is the thing.
Throughout this election season a lot of decisions were made, important ones (President) and well, others... like Prop R in San Francisco which asked voters to decide if a sewage plant should be named after George W. Bush. (tee, hee, hee... that makes me laugh. Sadly, it didn't pass. But I digress...) I wonder how many of those decisions were made because they were the right thing to do? Just because they were right?
Without conscience, making a decision solely because folks will think you're "cool" makes you a victim of peer pressure. Making one solely because it's what everyone else is doing, makes you a "lemming". Making one solely because it will allow you to advance, makes you opportunistic. Making one solely because it allows you to "figuratively" stay alive, makes you a sell-out.
Making a decision solely because it's right... no matter the tide of public opinion, no matter the consequence, no matter the fallout, makes you heroic.
The nation made a huge decision last night. One that I never thought I'd live to see. Many would say that President-elect Obama was "called" for such a time as this. My prayer is that he is able to continue to walk worthy of the call. I will be praying that he is the hero this country desperately needs.