Martin Luther King day

Caveat: these are just my personal musings, not a political stance of any kind (I don’t do stances: they put out my back.)


Today (or rather yesterday, for NZ folks) is Martin Luther King day in the US. It’s one of the few national holidays of any country that have stuck with me in all my peregrinations. It’s also one of the few, of any country, that does not celebrate something I find problematic – it does not glorify war, land grabs, executions, revolutions. It may seem odd to officially remember the life and work of an inspirational person on only one day of the year, but that’s a minor quibble.

MLK day has remained dear to me in all these years since leaving the US. Twenty, to be precise. As those years have gone by, I’m afraid to say, I find myself less and less tempted to return to the country of my birth, though I doggedly maintain my US passport and have many dear friends as well as family in the US. With every mindless shooting, every idiotic squabble between political factions, each new and expensive war, a little bit more of my heart shakes loose from the place. There is no hatred: I just don’t understand America any more. I am left bemused, though I still want very much to believe, as the old quote says, in the dream. Maybe it’ll come back.

I do however understand, believe in and love MLK day. Actually, I see it as a supra-national holiday. King considered himself a citizen of the world: it would make perfect sense to me if there was an MLK day everywhere.

Perhaps we should petition the NZ government…

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8 Responses to Martin Luther King day

  1. Sue Fitz says:

    Did you know that MLK spoke of his inspiration from Mahatma Ghandi? And Ghandi spoke of his inspiration from Te Whiti, who is a Maori leader from Taranaki – he founded the village of Parihaka and a passive resistance movement. “Parihaka Day” is 5 November, which is currently Guy Fawkes Day here – I would love to see GFD replaced with Parihaka Day, particularly as a remembrance of peace and harmony everywhere.

  2. Tyson says:

    peregrinations. Awesome word! I’ll have to remember that one.

    And you’re so right about how many other holidays come with a dark side to them, but this one doesn’t. I had never thought about that before.

    • MaryV says:

      Like the peregrine falcon, I presume. Or maybe not. I’m no expert on these things.

      It’s surprisingly hard, particularly in European countries, to find holidays that do not involve an enemy’s ignominious defeat, or people being guillotined, or conversely hung, drawn and quartered.

      • Tyson says:

        It’s enough to make you want to celebrate pagan holidays isn’t it? Nothing objectionable about the change of seasons.

        • MaryV says:

          Yeah, unless you celebrate them with human sacrifices. Mmmm, gouging out the heart of a conquered enemy! But I digress

  3. Bradley says:

    I particularly agree with your inclination not to celebrate days that honour war, land grabs, etc – I like your enthusiasm for a holiday that has real meaning for all the globe, transcending countries 🙂 Bring on world peace! 🙂

    • MaryV says:

      Hear, hear! Bring it on! …Oh, we’re incorrigible flower children, aren’t we. Now, where are my birkenstocks…

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