January 20, 2014

MLK Reflection from Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong

Delivered January 15th, 2014 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Nagasaki Peace Bell Ceremony
by Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, First Unitarian Church of Honolulu

For 26 years we’ve been celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King here in Honolulu, yet this year, it seems a bit different to me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen many of you throughout the year at some parade or another, holding up some sign or another, praying for some cause or another and during some special session or another, and we’ve stood shoulder-to-shoulder because soon, we knew that day would arrive, when we can be equal in each other’s eyes.

I believe Dr. King would’ve been proud of what happened last November.

Without his dream, I wouldn’t have had my dream fulfilled of marrying the one I love and becoming the first same-gender couple to get married here in the Aloha State.

But as much as I’d like to think it’s all about me, it’s really not...

Governor Abercrombie said at our wedding that a new day is dawning upon -- us all of us -- a truly kinder world brought about by so many before us -- a world where compassion reigns

I wish I could say we’ve arrived and the dream has come true for all of us, but until we stop opening the newspaper and reading about yet another school shooting and another kid being bullied, we have not arrived.

Until we realize our country’s war on drugs is really just a disguise for our war on people of color, we have not achieved racial equality

You see, it doesn’t matter how many African Americans we put in the White HOUSE...as long as the majority of prisoners in the Jail HOUSE are African Americans, we have not fulfilled Dr. King’s dreams!

Until the day every single American can have access to affordable healthcare and I don’t just mean online access to a functional website, then Dr. King’s dream will continue to be deferred

That’s why I keep coming back to this bell behind me. Whenever I ring it, I’m being called to keep the dream alive and to keep fighting for everyone’s basic needs

I keep coming back because I want others to hear the bell ringing as well, calling you and you and you to keep the dream vibrant instead of sinking deeper into despair and helplessness

That’s why I keep coming back to hear the Royal Hawaiian Band play “Do you hear the people sing?” because it’s a reminder that we will not be slaves again...not to an oppressive government, not to corporations, not to anyone!

I want to keep the dream alive of a new day when we can put compassion into action, when our values and principles will not be used to divide us, but to unite us in our common struggle for peace and justice everywhere!

Once more, I implore you to join in our crusade, to be strong and stand with me...to ensure that we malama pono and keep Dr. King’s dream alive and well. Mahalo.

reposted with permission

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