Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Funny Guy


I love this little snippet of video from (apparently) the Michael Douglas Show back in the mid-1960s. Take a look and then I'll tell you why.

I love this because MLK turns out to be a pretty funny guy, and that's important.

When we elevate a person to national hero, as we have with Martin Luther King, Jr. and other figures in history, we tend to (new-word alert) one-dimensionalize them along the lines of whatever they were known for: Washington for his integrity, Jefferson for his brilliance, King for his courage.

While these are real attributes that deserve recognition, there is a downside to one-dimensionalizing (second use of the new word - it's catching on!) these people: we lose sight of their humanity, and it's their humanity that makes their achievements so significant, and so inspiring.

And it's not just their foibles that we need to keep in mind, but also their more endearing human characteristics. George Washington had his faults (as I have learned reading a biography of him) but he also had insecurities - about his lack of education, about his artificial teeth threatening to leap out of his head during public events - and he had a very human and compassionate side.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was more than his "I Have a Dream" speech, and he was more than the man who marched in black-and-white newsreels and was jailed repeatedly for his beliefs. Who could live up to that? What is the point of trying if we are supposed to compare ourselves against the standard of perfection for which we remember our heroes?

They were human.We are human.They had faults. We have faults. They had endearing qualities, and so do we.

In spite of all that, and because of all that, they made a difference. So can we.

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