Monday, January 21, 2008

Train Up a Child? by the Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell

On the "Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation" blog is this fine piece about Martin Luther King and our responsibility for continuing the work that he did:


"Train up a Child?" - by the Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell

Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell is the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Honeoye Falls, NY, MDG coordinator for Diocese of Rochester.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, RSV)

This past week, my 7 year old daughter Hannah came home from school and proudly showed me her “Peace Prize.” She had a paper medal around her neck that was a copy of the medal given to the Nobel Peace Prize recipients. That day at school, she had learned all about Martin Luther King, Jr. She learned that he won the Nobel Prize. She learned that he had a dream. She learned that he had been assassinated on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. She didn’t understand why someone would want to kill a person who just wanted people to be treated fairly.

Then she told me that her teacher taught her a hard lesson. While the children in the class were watching a dvd, the teacher put stars on the back of some of the medals and not others. After the movie was over, the teacher told them to look at their medals. Everyone who had a star got to come to the front of the class and get candy. The children who didn’t have stars didn’t get candy. There was no reason why some kids got stars and some didn’t. The kids who didn’t get stars were very upset. The teacher explained that this is how discrimination works. And the way that the children without stars felt was the way that Dr. King had felt lots of the time and it’s what he was fighting. Hannah asked the teacher how the kids who got the stars were supposed to learn the lesson which the teacher said was a “Very Good Question.”

I am incredibly privileged, as are my kids. How do I teach them about poverty, disease, thirst, genocide, discrimination? They hear me talk about the MDG’s but in reality, my kids were born with stars on the back of their medals. I want them to enjoy the blessings of this life but I want them to be aware of the kids without the stars. And I want them to share the candy.

Today my kids have the day off from school in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you’re taking the time to read this, take some more time and read some of Dr. King’s amazing writings, especially his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” And tell a child about what you read.

Editor's Note: An excellent resource for spending time with Dr. King's writings and speeches today is the website of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. There are audio excerpts from many of his speeches as well as complete texts of his writings.

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