Monday, we honor the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Given recent events, I feel compelled to quote this passage from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (and I do recommend reading the whole thing if you have a few minutes):
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
Dr. King had such a profound effect on bending the arc of the moral universe towards justice that, in November of 1983, Ronald Reagan signed a bill sponsored by Representative Katie Hall (D-IN and a black woman, of course, because they pretty much seem to be on the right side of just about everything just about all the time) into law creating the King holiday, which was first recognized in 1986 (don’t give old Ronnie too much credit – the original bill passed with veto-proof majorities).
While everyone enjoys a day off work, it didn’t take too long before people started thinking that perhaps the best way to honor Dr. King’s legacy wasn’t a three-day skiing weekend. So in 1994, Senator Harris Wofford (D-PA) and Representative John Lewis (R-GA) co-sponsored legislation, signed into law by Bill Clinton, challenging Americans to devote the holiday to service instead of self-indulgence.
When Barack Obama was elected, he amplified and provided moral leadership around the Martin Luther King Day of Service starting even before he was formally inaugurated, when he spent the day before his first inauguration, Monday, January 19, 2009, visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed and helping with renovation work at a DC shelter for homeless young people. This began a tradition that the Obama family followed for each of the succeeding eight King days of his Presidency, spending one of his final days in office, Monday, January 16, 2017 at the Jobs Have Priority Naylor Road Family Shelter in DC painting a mural.
(By the way, if you’re looking for the selfish, narcissistic shithole current resident of the White House to do something similar, don’t hold your breath.)
Our current social, political, and cultural climate render it more important than ever for us to be involved with and contribute to the betterment of our local communities. There are forces trying to use hate, bigotry, cynicism, fear, and despair to unravel the fabric of our local communities and the nation they comprise.
So what are your plans for this holiday weekend?
If you have a regular volunteer gig, I’m sure they’d love to see you on Monday.
If you don’t, I guarantee there are projects in your town you can still sign up for. Find them at https://www.nationalservice.gov/mlkday.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll do something to help your community as a one-off Monday, discover you love helping your neighbors and the good feeling it gives you, and turn it into a regular thing.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.
What will you do Monday to drive out darkness and hate? What will you do every day after that?
Image found here.
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