Good Friday vs. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The great debate continues.
I belong to the Student Government Association (motto: “Proudly Serving
About 120 CMU Students”). Each year, this fine organization passes a resolution
urging the need to celebrate MLKJ Day by canceling class, and each year the
proposal gets shot down, with good reason.
The only holiday CMU intentionally celebrates in the spring is Good Friday,
which doesn’t make much sense since most other businesses and schools continue
their daily lives on this day. Of course, this is the same university that
paints random white lines and puts up fences that obstruct driving ability,
so nobody is too surprised by anything that happens around here anymore.
Anyway, people wonder why we have Good Friday off and not MLKJ Day. After
all, both Jesus and MLK were men of peace and dark skin. Both said unpopular
things in a time when they needed to be said. Sure, Jesus was (and still
is) our Lord and Savior, but MLK was Baptist!
The point is, we should not have either day off. Many people play the
MLKJ day card as a race issue, saying that he was an important black leader
that should be honored. I totally agree with this. But a day off is not the
way to do it.
What does a day off get us? Students who don’t have class will stay at
home, study, play video games and drink, even if the holiday means something.
People do this for all holidays, including Boxing Day, Thanksgiving and Bangles
Day, which falls on a hectic Monday every year (har!).
If students have class on MLKJ Day, they will already be on campus and
more likely to stop by a booth or seminar between classes. If students learn
about the man on their own free will, his legacy will be much more effective.
Shoving MLK down our throats, though, by making us feel guilty for not
wanting a day off is a sick way to prove a point. The same holds true for
Good Friday; would Jesus want us to put our lives on hold to honor Him, or
would he want us to help others and live as He did?
I cannot bring this issue up in SGA because I get rocks hurled at me from
all of the Democrats and African-Americans in attendance. Through a string
of four-letter words and spittle flying around the room, they inform me that
black people just want their one day to honor this one man and I just don’t
understand culture and I should die for even considering doing anything on
MLKJ Day besides kissing his … gravestone.
I feel that to really honor MLK and Jesus, we should act as they would,
especially on those two days. It’s what they would want, and it’s how we
can continue their vision for a more peaceful world. Demanding a day off
accomplishes nothing; forcing people to attend programs and lectures about
men they never met only further polarizes people.
For academic concerns, I suggest that professors not do anything demanding
on these days. No tests or mandatory classes — because students who feel
strongly will skip anyway, and it is not fair to punish them. Some people
call America a “Christian” or “white” country. And yes, we will never satisfy
everybody. So make the holidays optional, since people want to keep crying
Plus, if we get MLK Day off, how about a day off for prominent dead Arab,
Hispanic and Japanese leaders? Sound like a stupid idea? So does getting
MLK Day off simply because he was black. It’s because he was a great American
that he needs to be honored — not with a day, but with continuous actions.
On Good Friday, I will probably go to church to honor Jesus. On MLK Day,
I will surf the Net to find out some info on him. But more importantly, I
will devote those two days to helping others and being a good friend to anyone
who needs it, regardless of race, creed or Social Security number.
It’s what they would want.