January 13, 2011

What Would MLK Do?

Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t  have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
~ Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King’s birthday, when I was growing up, was marked, primarily, by African American kids skipping school. Dr. King would’ve been horrified.

Now, of course, we have the official holiday…even if, most years, it’s not actually on his birthday (as only Christmas and the 4th of July manage to escape the overwhelming force of Americans’ love of long weekends) and I doubt he’d be exactly thrilled about everybody staying home and playing Grand Theft Auto in his honor, either.

This is what makes the Martin Luther King Day of Service…coming up on January 17th…such a beautiful thing: a day set aside to help others in our communities, not a day off, but a day on. As Dr. King himself put it: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’ And this point was beautifully echoed in President Obama’s speech last night on the shooting in Arizona:

We are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth or status or power or fame, but rather how well we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.
~ Barack Obama

So, thought I’d drop a suggestion that anyone out there not already committed to the Martin Luther King Day of Staying Home and Smoking Bongs in Front of the Tube or the Martin Luther King Day of Grumbling About Having to Work on a Holiday might should check out the Day of Service website for ways to get involved locally*.

* which, as was pointed out to me when I posted on this at Yoga for Cynics last year, there might not be, as it’s caught on more in some parts of the country than others. (Personally, I often jockey for a favorite table at my local coffee shop with one of the people who originally came up with the idea).**

** then, MLK didn’t wait around for an official National Day of Protesting Segregation event to start the Montgomery Bus Boycott. So, if there’s nothing official in your area, think of something and do it. It’s what Dr. King would do…***

*** as would Thich Nhat Hanh (pictured above with MLK).

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