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Opinion

Spending an Hour with Dr. King


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jan. 18, 2022 - 5:45 PM

Spending an Hour with Dr. King

Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. His most recent book is “Was Jesus a Socialist?” He can be reached at lreed@fee.org.

If you could travel back in time and spend an hour with 10 people of your choosing, who would you choose and why?

What would you want to talk to him or her about?

One I would want to meet is the man we honored this past Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I would relish beyond measure the opportunity to speak with him one-on-one.

We would not agree on everything, to be sure. I think Dr. King often erred when he addressed economic issues. However, he was such a thoughtful and gracious man that I am certain he would listen carefully to my perspective. I would want to explain to him why his support for the minimum wage, compulsory unionism and welfare programs conflicts with his devotion to nonviolence.

Dr. King noted that capitalism (the system of private property, entrepreneurship and free markets) made it possible for America “to do wonders” and “become the richest nation in the world.” He called it “the greatest system of production that history has ever known.” And he knew that communism was rooted in deceit and tyranny and said so multiple times. So even on economics, we would likely find considerable harmony of views.

On other matters — really big ones, in fact — we would agree enthusiastically. I would thoroughly enjoy discussing that common ground in detail.

For example, as fellow Christians, we would likely talk about our mutual understanding of Christian ethics. I would also want to tell him about how science, in the years since he died in 1968, has increasingly affirmed Creation and a Creator, not an accidental universe. I think he would be thrilled by this development.

Dr. King famously declared, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I would thank him for so eloquently endorsing the critical importance of character. He was at his best when he said this:

“Hate is just as injurious to the person who hates. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

Dr. King’s many wise observations about kindness, courage, forgiveness, responsibility and compassion would provide a foundation to talk for far more than just one hour. Indeed, I would ask the time machine to grant me several more hours with him. In any event, I would not want our time to fly by without thanking him for one more thing he said:

“Our ultimate allegiance is not to the government, not to the state, not to nation, not to any man-made institution. The Christian owes his ultimate allegiance to God, and if any earthly institution conflicts with God’s will it is your Christian duty to take a stand against it. You must never allow the transitory, evanescent demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God.”

Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. His most recent book is “Was Jesus a Socialist?” He can be reached at lreed@fee.org.