Statement: Pastor Patrick Shaffer

There are moments when “civil rights” experiences a renaissance or renewal. This happens because as the times change, people change and therefore how we define justice must change.

What Dr. King labored for all African Americans to understand is that we are global citizens, entitled to every right given to us by the constitution and that we should be protected from every wrong we are left venerable to when we as Americans are not given the grace to live freely and in peace.

Over the past thirty years we have seen great strides to create an equal playing field in America for all citizens and yet there have also been many setbacks, leaving us with much work to do if we are going to reconstruct an idea of justice in a world that is increasingly schismed and polarized. As a new generation of freedom fighters, our challenge is to discern with an open heart and clear mind where injustice lurks, not for us alone, but for our brothers and sisters of in America and around the globe.

We must disconnect from the idea that African Americans alone have a franchise on civil rights. We must broaden our approach and application of how we partner with those who find inequality in the world because of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or immigrant status.

Facing the pain of injustice and intolerance from a prison cell in 1963 Dr. King wrote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

From a place of power and great conviction we must be advocates of equal rights, because Dr. King’s legacy and timeless message of freedom and justice lives on through us as we become engaged in the struggles of those here in America and abroad.

Injustice knows no boundaries, so our fight to eradicate it from the lives of those most vulnerable must never be abandoned.

We’re faced with unique challenges; I contend that it’s hard to see others when you’re always looking in the mirror. We’re indoctrinated by a culture looking for self improvement, self help, and self made riches but as we become more robust in those areas we fail to see beyond ourselves to see those who desperately need us most.

As we climb the ladder of success, we must find ways to construct opportunities, not for us alone but for someone who may need the same ladder one day. Our responsibility is to love ourselves enough to know that every blessing and the gifts of health strength, joy and peace must be shared with those who need them most.

The dream for equality has not been realized it is still dormant in many of us who are not conscious enough to know that dreams aren’t fulfilled when they are kept; they are only fulfilled when they are shared.

So, we must find new ways and new paths to share the dream of justice and equality with those we see every day. In times like these, new rights must be applied, that causes us to have a new way of being and living in the world, and that time is now.

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