Selma, the new film on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King is simply beautiful. The beauty is however not merely because of the noble dream of the celebrated peaceful activist that has largely become a reality, but because of its importance for us even today.
Watching this masterpiece makes one realize how the dream lives on. Selma, named after the town where the Dr. King’s dream catalyzed and matured, is particularly visible today in these principal areas:
1. The audacity of hope and resistance over and above violence.
Dr. King achieved the golden dream of breaking the many years of segregation and indignity to which African Americans were subjected for many years through peaceful resistance. And at different moments when the protest movement was provoked, attacked and brutalized, King all the same made it a point of duty of reinforcing the importance of peaceful and non-violent reaction to such indignities.
In our contemporary days in which violence has become a mistaken panacea for getting attention and righting wrongs, Salem represents lots of message to us.
From the bloodied North-Eastern states of Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram, to the unfortunate office of Charlie Hebdo where twelve people lost their lives to the Kouachi brothers, the messages beams out loud and clear that violence never wins.
Not only does violence never win, but also all individuals, groups and governments who encourage violence and deny peoples of peace eventually lose out, no matter how powerful they are. Governor Wallace of Alabama and the whole of the government machineries under him bore witness to that in history as Selma reveals. In spite of the batons and bullets, the powerful words of Dr. King carried the day.
It is the same message that plays out in the recent Charlie Hebdo saga. In spite of the painful deaths caused by these extremists and perpetrators of violence, the simple strokes of pen continue to achieve greater influence in our world.
- Strength in unity
Selma equally demonstrates the otherwise almost self-evident strength in unity. The resistant movement started slowly and experienced immense problems when the struggle was been sustained only by African Americans. With the passionate appeal of Dr. King to all men and women of good will, “white, black and otherwise” as he called it, the movement gathered strength and became a most formidable one. In unity we gather strength. Breaking down barriers along race, religion, gender and cultures would always have amazing positive contributions for humanity.
About each and every one of us has a mentor or some important figure in our lives. The Canadian socio-political philosopher, Charles Taylor, will refer to such a person as a “significant other.” These people play significant leadership roles in our lives.
In Selma, these “significant others” were members of the clergy who came from different religions to join the Dr. King movement. The effect was immediate and visible, a drawing together of hundreds of individuals for whom these leaders were mentors.
My thought right now is “how much are our mentors, particularly the clergy, forming a synergy of strength for the people?”. And I think about Nigeria particularly where 2, 000 have just been murdered in cold blood by terrorists, and I wonder how much the different religious leaders realize how much they must come together to fight this evil to a standstill.
Of course the need for a synergy of strength amongst mentors and leaders is not limited to Nigeria. All societies stand in great need of same. Whether in France or in America, whether in Canada or the Cameroons, the coming together of peoples’ “significant others” would always and necessarily be of great importance.
Finally and in conclusion, Dr. King’s words that “truth is marching on” is as true today as it was yesterday. Truth can merely be suppressed for a time. It always manages to unstrap itself free of the shackles of falsehood. And this is valid in all areas of life you may imagine, and for all peoples too.
I do recommend you watch Selma.