I’m putting this column together on what is celebrated as Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. It’s no secret that MLK is one of my all-time heroes in life. Like all of us, he wasn’t perfect, but unlike all of us, as a man, he put his life on the line every day for the values in which he believed — and when I say he put his life on the line, I mean he did that just by getting up in the morning.

There were myriad closed-minded people who would just as soon see him dead as to “carry on with that Civil Rights stuff.” Ultimately, the closed-minded won. But they didn’t really.

A handful of Irish lads who know what prejudice and hatred can do to people, having lived amongst the bloody Catholic-Protestant battles in their home country, formed a rock group and perhaps gave one of the best homages to the late great MLK. U2, in its “(Pride) in the Name of Love,” ballad, sang, “Early evenin’, April 4, shot rings out in the Memphis sky. Free at last, they took your life, they could not take your pride.” 

Reverend King’s dream of having everyone, regardless of race, color or creed, living together in peace and harmony, much like Jesus’ messages, is yet to become a reality.

Hatred, prejudice, arrogance, narrow-mindedness, entitlement, and a “my way or the highway” life philosophy remain rampant in this country.

King once said, “We must learn to live as brothers or perish together as fools.” Unless there’s a change of heart in many people, I see the latter occurring before the former.

And it’s not just in sports, entertainment and politics that these cancer-like traits are prevalent. I see it in everyday life, in everyday occurrences.

There was a time when in this country and across the world, elderly were held in high esteem and were deserving of respect.

No longer is that the norm. There will come a time when the word respect and its definition will be erased from dictionaries and conversation.

The young don’t respect the elderly, and quite frankly, there are many elderly that don’t much respect anyone (and I’m not talking about those with dementia and Alzheimer’s).

I’m considered a senior citizen and I see it working both ways.

I’ve seen how young people can be rude, crude and callous when speaking to or dealing with me. And at the other end of the spectrum, citizens more senior than I have treated me as inferior because they feel they are better than me.

I’m now seeing things my beloved dad experienced in his senior years; things like folks not caring about all the good deeds he did for others and all the fine work he spent his blood, sweat and tears on.

He never said a word, but I know the hurt he had to have experienced. And I’m learning it first-hand.

King’s dream seems more distant now than ever. People are indeed changing, and not for the better.

I recently told a friend that I know what I’ve done in my life, and so does God. And I can live with the insults. 

And to my friends out there who are treated likewise remember that God knows what is in your hearts, regardless of those who are “better than you.”

I pray for victims of disrespect, prejudice, hatred and narrow-mindedness. Don’t let anyone take your pride. Continue to live as brothers and sisters, and pray for the others, lest they perish together as fools.