THIS WEEK, as the nation commemorates the 10th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, it is fitting that we look closely at his life--the non-violence he preached and the example he set for the world. In that spirit, Harvard's decision to establish a King Lecture Series devoted to that end is commendable. So profound was the impact of his ideas on the consciousness of the country that continual examination of the man and his thinking is essential.
A retrospective approach alone, however, does not do justice to King's memory. He was a forward-looking man, a dreamer, more concerned with potential for change than the disappointments of the past. In that sense, the best possible commemoration would couple an appreciation of King and his contribution with an analysis of what we are doing to fulfill his ideals.
When he died, King had begun to turn his attention to an issue that has since grown yet more important: economic justice. Rather than sigh with resignation and say "If only he were alive today," we should peer ahead, as he did, and concern ourselves with the social issues King would have addressed were he with us today.