Today, Past King County Executive who a decade ago this May took the role of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in DC gave a magnificent speech to open up this year’s MLK weekend.

He shared stories about how growing up he was told by a teacher to tell his parents – who were civil rights protesters – to behave; how his and an Asian American’s extensive science fair projects were denied entry; and how in high school as he was to be recognized as ‘most inspirational’ his coach purposely broke the award in two before handing it to him. Why? Because he was not the same.

He then shared with us the story of how a conservative republican from the east side came to him while a Seattle counselman and said that as a matter of conscious, he wanted to work with Sims to change the attribution of our county to Martin Luther King from what seemed to originally be unknown was a slave owner and slave proponent from Alabama. He mentioned that the aim was never to take away attribution from the later, but only to uphold the former. Isn’t this what we should all do?

Well, I recollected that I had this article in my archives and I brought it along for a visit to my former Rotary club. At the time of publication in May of 2009, both Sims – taking his role at HUD – and our former governor Gary Locke – assuming the role of Ambassador to China* – were apparently a little bit lost in “the other Washington.”

If these gentleman were lost then, I can hardly imagine how ‘dazed and confused’ they would be in the Washington of today.

As Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke most certainly exclaim for much less than the government’s furlough: “What we have here is failure to communicate.”

A friend at Rotary sent the above image and asked how I intended to use it. My reply – which I purposely kept unspecified as to addressee for the simple reason that my attempt is to convey a universal message as we kick of this important celebratory weekend – is provided immediately below. Enjoy!

Hi –

I want to breakthrough the boundaries that divide us as people in rebuke of the increasing divisiveness in our neighborhoods, communities, nation, and world. There is just no positive benefit in getting in a kerfuffle over ‘5 Blades of Grass’ and there is always a solution when people are willing to be reasonable. After being at it for now over a decade, I realize that fear of ‘the other’ really amounts to the fear of an unexplored part of one’s own dark and cavernous psyche. Boundary disputes are what I call “an external manifestation of an internal problem.” I just want to show people that it is appropriate to let slide some things because in the grand scheme of things, they – both the things as well as the parties – are insignificant. So, it is our duty to enjoy each other notwithstanding our imperfections. Essentially, I think I have finally been able to grasp the touchstone of all religious traditions – having empathy and love for one’s neighbor and oneself. This is important because our world is now such that we are all neighbors whether willing to recognize it or not. Cheers!


* Correction: Gary Locke was appointed by President Obama as U.S. Commerce Secretary from 2009-2011 and then was Ambassador to China from 2011 – 2014. Locke has currently returned as counsel to DWT and has established his own consultancy.