He recognized the universal truth of human liberty. He recognized our country as a unique vessel of that truth. He appealed to Americans with power to assume their responsibilities as the beneficiaries of liberty to make this a better and freer country. And he appealed to black Americans to assume a different kind of responsibility _ to not allow themselves to be destroyed by unearned suffering but to be redeemed by it.
The prophet is a lonely man because he brings a message that people do not want to hear.
Dr. King's activism was not welcomed by most whites and a good many blacks.
There is natural appeal in the inertia of the status quo. Change and assumption of new responsibilities and challenges are welcomed by few.
Turmoil tells us that something is wrong and we have no choice but to open our eyes and ears and assume the responsibilities that are cast upon us.
I am, of course, not a military tactician and am in no position to speculate about how best to use American troops to midwife a portion of the world that clearly needs help in becoming more modern, more civil and freer.
However, I can say, that I am in complete sympathy with our president who senses that America has a unique and special role to play in this world. We cannot shirk responsibilities that are clearly ours.
I cannot help but think that it is not an accident that the United States stands so alone, despite many other nations that claim to have similar commitments to and stakes in civility and liberty. The way they act makes clear that they don't.
The truths that Dr. King articulated in so crystal clear a way in 1963 continue to resound today. Freedom is what this country is about. We have no choice. It is our heritage. We thrive and prosper from it. And we cannot avoid the responsibilities that come with it in our engagement with the rest of the world.