Jim Lawson, the Civil Rights activist, knew Martin Luther King, Jr personally. King was his hero, his mentor, his brother in arms in those dark and trying days of the movement. So you can imagine how devastated he was in 1963 when King was murdered in cold blood.
Yet, as a Christian and a true practitioner of the philosophy of non-violence, Lawson felt called, in time, to meet and forgive King’s assassin, James Earl Ray. In the years after the murder, Lawson spent a considerable amount of time with Ray, even coming to meet the man’s fiancee. But for all this incredible forgiveness and restraint, Lawson understandably struggled when Ray took the astounding step of asking him to officiate his prison wedding.
It felt like too much. It was too painful. Was it unethical? Did it send the wrong message? So Lawson asked his family at dinner what they thought he should do. It was a short conversation. Almost before he could finish, Lawson’s 17-year-old son was answering. “Well,” his son said, not even needing to look up from his food, “if you believe all the stuff you’ve been preaching all these years, then you’ll do it.”
It’s a reminder that for all the things our kids need to learn, sometimes they understand things we’ve taught them even better than we did. It’s a reminder that they’re listening more than we think they are. It’s a reminder that sometimes out of the mouths of babes come back our most deeply held truths…and we have to listen.