"The honor accorded to the image passes over to its prototype, and whoever adores the image adores in it the reality of what is there represented" -- The Doctrine of the Veneration of Icons, formulated in 787 by the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Wiki).
I am not old enough to remember Martin Luther King Junior -- I was a few months away from turning three when his life was taken. He is an icon for me. Usually the buffer of time coinciding with an absence of formative memory serves to remove the threat and demand for transformation that an icon invariably represents. No such buffer exists with this man.
Icons, like King or the Dalai Lama, are maddening figures who make rigorous and maddening claims about humanity's shared existence. The degree to which we shrug off and dismiss these claims is the degree to which we commit ourselves to mediocrity, blinkered self-congratulation and wanton cruelty.
I would like to say more about King, but I am still wrestling with what he represents -- unlike, say, the North American media, which still does not hesitate to put a black preacher "in his place." From Jon Trott, who remembers.