Why We Shouldn’t Have the Day Off on Martin Luther King Day. ~ Joshua Scott Onysko

Via on Jan 17, 2011
MLK Speech
Photo Courtesy of JRR

Over the years, many people have acted surprised when they hear that Pangea Organics, (a known socially active company), does not close on MLK Day. This is why:

I believe that the biggest threat to our future is a lack of inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of inspiring people everywhere, many of whom are dedicated to inspiring others. But, there is never enough.

Dr. King lived an extraordinary life, more so than most may realize. In 1959, King visited the birthplace of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. On the last day of his journey, in a radio address made during his final evening in India, King reflected:

“Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.”

King had made the decision that he was going to carry out his life’s work by embracing peace and knowledge as his only weapons. He lived his entire life fighting without arms for what he knew was the future of the world in which he lived—for what was right. Even after multiple threats on his life, on the lives of his family, and after his home was bombed, he stayed true to his path.

When we think of Dr. King, we usually think of him as the leader of the African American Civil Rights Movement—the corner stone of what began the alleviation of our oppressive cultural belief structure of African American rights, which he was. When I pull the view back, I truly realize that Dr. King was freeing the whites just as much as the blacks. There is nothing more debilitating to the future of a culture than ignorance and a lack of understanding; Dr. King freed people from a mental slavery that plagues our world everyday. We all suffer from this.

It’s great that schools, roads, and a day is named after such an amazing man, but what I want is our kids’ future to be inspired by this man’s life. I want every child being born to someday know that when he or she has a dream, it doesn’t have to be just a dream, it can be reality. I want every child to know that the world can be changed without violence. I want every child to know that his or her life matters and the actions that he or she takes everyday affect the world. I want every teacher and every parent to raise their children to know that they are the future, and the dreams that they have are theirs to share with the world and nobody can stop them from achieving them…nobody.

In the end, I believe we have created a company that pays homage to Dr. King more by staying open, than spending one extra day not doing the work that we do.

I have a dream! And you are part of it….

Long Live the King!

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Joshua-Scott Onysko, a longtime friend to elephant, is founder and CEO of Pangea Organics. You can read more from Josh here.

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4 Responses to “Why We Shouldn’t Have the Day Off on Martin Luther King Day. ~ Joshua Scott Onysko”

  1. Kala says:

    The best thing would be to spend the day in service to the community somehow, if that feels like being at work then ok. But perhaps and I may have missed it-the company and let folks have the day off and have an organized "seva" or volunteer practice that builds work bonding, and helps others….

  2. joshua says:

    Hi All,

    As always, one of the things I love most about people who have supported Pangea is how active you all are. When you like something you tell us; when you don’t like something you tell us as well. Having passionate customers is one of the best parts of Pangea. Many of you wrote in who liked my letter, but a few of you did not, so I wanted to take the time to address your concerns.

    First, in the light of trying to achieve 100% transparency, I’d like to start by laying out Pangea’s paid vacation and paid holiday policy. At Pangea, we give first and second year employees 5 days vacation, 5 sick days, 7 paid holidays and 3 floating holidays. In your third and fourth year, you’re given 10 days vacation. In your fifth year, you’re granted 15 vacation days. Now, the floating holidays were created to allow employees to take paid days off for any reason, whether it is for social, spiritual, volunteer work or to go play raquette ball with Chevy Chase (which would be fabulous), but you should know the reason we offer 3 floating holidays is because not everyone honors the same traditions or practices the same religions. So we wanted to celebrate our diversities and allow for flexibility.

    Second, I didn’t want people to think that the world was closed and we were open. Most privately owned businesses stay open on MLK Day in Colorado as well as many other states, but any Pangean is welcome to use a floating holiday to observe it in his or her own way. In fact, some of you wrote in to share with us the many different ways that you and your families celebrated the day. Some attended rallies, marches or even concerts. That is amazing! And inspiring! And it is what you should be doing…following your heart, taking time to reflect and inspiring others.

    I created Pangea after travelling in developing countries for many years. At the end of my travels I saw my share of oppressed people. In the end I felt like the group that is suffering from oppression the most globally is women. Still to this day, in 2011, women grow over 80% of the world’s food yet own only 1% of the world’s land, and women are repaying 97-98% of all micro loans. When I created Pangea I decided to start a company that paid a living wage and health care, supported fair trade ingredients, sought to support women owned co-operatives when possible and eventually created micro loans to empower women to own their own cooperatives. So when I go to work, this is my dream and this is my service…everyday, but any Pangean can chose to pay homage to one of their personal heroes/heroines any way they please.

    All this being said, it has always been my belief that the brands of the future need to include their consumers at as many levels of the business as possible. And this year, by responding to my letter with positive and negative feedback, YOU’VE INSPIRED US. So, every year from here on out on MLK day, we will encourage our employees to use a “paid floating holiday” to do something that means something to them in the community on that day, and we will post their experiences in our newsletter.

    I do hope this clears up some of your concerns. I encourage you to keep the feedback coming! My letters are intended to spark conversation, and soon our blog will allow for guest commenting!!

    Thank you for your continued support!

    Joshua Scott Onysko
    Founder/CEO
    Pangea Organics

  3. [...] you have the day off on Monday or not, celebrate the wonderful inspiring legacy of Dr. King by listening to words of wisdom that he [...]

  4. [...] drove for a living; or they were inconvenienced in a thousand other ways big and small. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. often referred to nonviolence as “creative maladjustment,” with the idea that those who [...]

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