What Would MLK Do?

Via Jay Winston
on Jan 13, 2011
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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).


About Jay Winston

Jay S. Winston, founder and proprietor of Yoga for Cynics (http://yogaforcynics.blogspot.com), has a PhD in English, making him the kind of doctor who, in case of life-threatening emergency, can explain Faulkner while you die, is currently (semi-)(un-)employed as a freelance writer and editor, teaches creative writing to homeless men, tutors recovering addicts in reading, was recently certified as a Kripalu yoga teacher, gets around mostly by bicycle, is trying to find an agent for his novel, resides in the bucolic Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, State of Mildly Inebriated Samadhi, U.S.A. and, like most people who bike and practice yoga, used to live in Boulder.


3 Responses to “What Would MLK Do?”

  1. Wonderful post! I especially love that quote by Obama and of all the things he said, it was what resonated with me the most. I really hope people will serve their communities on MLK day! I also suggested service on MLK day as a way to honor the victims of the AZ shootings http://bit.ly/glIA5B. I don't get the day off since I live in Sweden. But I will be volunteering that day as I volunteer every Monday afternoon with a special program through the Red Cross. I help asylum-seeking children who came to Sweden without their parents.

  2. […] What Would MLK Do? | elephant journal RT @elephantjournal: "Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’" http://www.elephantjournal.com/20 … (tags: tweeted) […]

  3. Kala says:

    The photo is a gem, I knew both men were acquainted but had never see image of MLK and Thich Nhat before, wow. You can actually feel the weariness of MLK, and the sense of tension too. So much as changed as a result of his leadership and that of so many others unknown. I'm deeply grateful for the ground work he laid, for the nation really. Every time I hear his "I Have A Dream" speech, I get chills-at that point he was clearly channeling Spirit in a big way, that was beyond personal ego.