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This is the first of my 2018 blogs that will endeavor to practice the seven steps to being the change we seek I suggested last time.

This week the nation is observing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, and it could not come at a more critical time.

Dr. King’s words and actions stand in marked contrast, if not contradiction, to the rhetoric of our current President.

I heard Dr. King speak on numerous occasions and I have heard Donald Trump speak on numerous occasions.

One made my spirits soar, the other makes my spirits drop.

One appealed to the best of our instincts as Americans. The other appeals to our worst.

One spoke of justice. The other promotes injustice.

One gave hope by preaching love. The other stokes hate by exploiting fear.

One wanted to build bridges to unite people of different races, cultures, and religions. The other wants to build a wall to divide people of different races, cultures, and religions.

Am I being unfair to Donald Trump?

I am willing to be corrected if I am, but at this point I think anyone who says I am will be hard pressed to prove it.

It’s not that I would expect Donald Trump to measure up to being the man Dr. King was, but I can say that the qualities of compassion and love that formed Dr. King’s character and guided his words and actions are available to all of us now, even Donald Trump.

But they don’t spring up on their own. We have to choose to nurture compassion and love in ourselves.

There is no evidence Trump has made that choice, but we can.

So, as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., we might ask ourselves if we are committed to the unenforceable obligations of compassion, love, and justice for which he lived and died.

And if we are, will others know we are based on the views we hold and the political leaders we support.

I think it is pretty clear that if Dr. King were still alive he would be alarmed by Trump’s presidency just as many of us are.

But I think it is also pretty clear that he would tell us that not letting him succeed in shredding the moral fiber of the nation means we cannot become like him.

Darkness cannot dispel darkness, is how he once put it. Only light can do that.

Honoring him means being committed to being that light, even though the darkness seems overwhelming.