A Stone Of Hope

I was in Washington DC last week with my 14 yr old son, some of his classmates and a few of their parents. This is an annual trek to the nation’s capital organized by the school to afford the students an opportunity to view firsthand the monuments, museums and locations that detail and preserve the birth and growing pains of the nation. Each time I visit DC I am captivated by the symbolism, the architecture and the beauty everywhere you look. It is truly an inspiring and wonderous place.

At the same time, there is a certain sadness that I experience as I view the museum exhibits and carved stone monuments. So much of DC is a memorial to war and struggle. Yes, the result was often the casting off of tyranny, or achieving freedom from some long standing oppression. However, even as the country was being birthed there was so much suffering and injustice, that in a way it is hard to celebrate.

On the last day we visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The centerpiece for the memorial is based on a line from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech:

With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

A 30 feet high relief of King, named the Stone of Hope, stands past two other pieces of granite that symbolize the “mountain of despair.” Visitors figuratively pass through the Mountain of Despair on the way to the Stone of Hope, symbolically moving through the struggle as Dr. King did during his life.

You could say that in some ways Dr. King was an optimist. One of the other quotes on the quote wall says,

We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

I disagree.

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it does not bend toward justice, it bends toward the fallen and selfish nature of man. Unrestrained, the moral arc of the universe leads to tyranny, injustice, cruelty and death. It’s simple. It takes a lot of work to make things better. It takes none at all for them to get worse.

Yet there is hope.

Not hope that the universe will tend toward justice but hope that our effort can change the trajectory. Hope that we can choose to love and grown and learn. We don’t just need to recover leadership, we need to recover what we were meant to be.

MLK said that through faith we might find hope, brotherhood and freedom. In recovery, through faith, I found hope where I used to have despair, harmony where there was discord, and freedom from the things that used to control me. It took a lot of work. Hard work. Personal work. Painful work.

It was worth it.

The same will be true if we wish to change the “arc of the universe,” the arc of Oklahoma City or even the arc of Kimray. If we do nothing, things will get worse. If we are willing to work hard, endure and get personal, things can get better.

It is worth it. It is the Kimray Way.