February 8, 2018
Dr. King in a truck
To the editor:
Super Bowl commercials have become iconic for many of us. Even for those, like me, who don’t really care about either team playing in the big game, we watch to see the commercials. After all, the companies payed $5 million this year for a 30-second ad.
My interest was piqued by the commercial in which I heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice and saw examples of neighbors taking care of neighbors. But by the end of the Ram truck commercial, my stomach was starting to hurt. That’s my personal signal that all is not right in my world. Warning, warning! Cognitive dissonance on the horizon.
By Monday morning, my head had caught up to my body and heart. I was angry. Angry that Dodge used the words of Dr. King to sell a truck. Let’s be clear. The commercial, which cost $10 million, was made to sell Ram trucks. I’m not the only one who is mad. All the major news outlets have reported on people’s dislike of the commercial. The King Center in Atlanta and Bernice King immediately let it be known they had no responsibility in the use of Dr. King’s words in this commercial.
I call us, as Christians, to a higher litmus test of what is good. Dr. King changed the social construct of our nation using non-violent principals. He is a national hero, a national treasure. What about the Christian community? Who is Dr. King to us? I consider him one of our modern-day prophets. God continues to send us prophets. Their job, as a prophet’s job has always been, is to make us uncomfortable, to show us how we are not loving our neighbor and to call us to action in our repentance. Martin Luther did that. Sojourner Truth and Dorothy Day did that, too. I think the Rev. Dr. William Barber is being a prophet today. I know you can name other prophets. So have we come to the place where we are willing to allow our prophets to be used to sell trucks?
I believe the words Dr. King preached and wrote are prophetic, too. His words are part of the continuing Word of God that is being given to us through our prophets and wise ones. These words are sacred, holy text. God didn’t stop talking to the Beloved Community at the close of the Bible. God continues to give us holy and sometimes prophetic words through our prophets and wise ones. So let’s go back to our higher litmus test of what is good.
I would also ask, have we come to the point where we allow our sacred and holy texts to be used to sell trucks? We must join the chorus of voices and say, “No, you cannot have our prophet nor his sacred words for material gain.
Karol Eubanks Vellines, Tucker, Ga.