On MLKJr. Day (No.2) What I want to fight and live for and why?

What I want to fight and live for and why?

by Haruko DeArth


Growing up in a country where the issues of democracy and freedom take a much different shape and have their own struggles, I didn't hear MLK’s real speech until I was in high school when I took an English -Japanese simultaneous interpretation course. The final chapter of the course centered on MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, recorded on a cassette tape. I listened to his speech over and over and over while practicing the interpretation until I practically memorized the whole speech.

I’ve never heard a powerful voice like that in my life and it moved me deeply. It made me imagine the century-long agony that people had been forced to bear, his fear and struggle in fighting for freedom, but most of all, it made me think about what made him speak so powerfully and with such conviction.  

What was merely the English learning material in my high school days turned out to be one of the most valuable teachings not only for learning of the American Civil Rights Movement, but also, for searching for the answer to the most critical question in life, that is, what I want to fight and live for and why.

Over 30 years since then, I never would have guessed I would be witnessing an unprecedented election process unfolding. As pathetic as the current situation of our country is, what I see is the power of its people: ordinary citizens, community organizations, advocacy groups of human rights, independent press, scholars, they may not be all perfect but never stop learning and fighting to defend their rights and freedoms.

What makes the United States great is, as enormous as our challenge is, it is the resilience of its people led by great leaders like MLK who believed in the power of love and in the philosophy of non- violence that continue to guide us in this long journey.