When I think of the famous speeches of Dr. King, I am always reminded of this fact. We have always seen certain groups of people as less deserving of the rights we willingly claim for ourselves. Be it blacks, immigrants, prisoners, those with mental health struggles or disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, or addicts, it is far too easy to look at them with judgment and disdain. Maybe even fear. They’re different than me. What happens to them is not my concern. They probably brought it on themselves anyway.
Those are all too easy to say. The hard work is in looking at people who are different from us, who live different lives, make different choices, and recognize our common humanity. That’s what Dr. King was talking about. Not being blind to our differences but being aware that we are all human and deserve respect based on that. So when a black man is lynched, or a prisoner dies from a lack of medical care, or someone struggling dies from suicide without access to mental healthcare, or because their own family won’t accept them for who they are, we fail as a society. We fail to see human life as human life.