Today marks the U.S. federal holiday honoring the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His assassination, dating a little less than 46 years ago, signaled the close of a climactic journey in the fight for equal rights among all people. He is the first African-American man to be named “Man of the Year” in Time Magazine, the youngest male to have received the Nobel Peace Prize at age 35, and with 900 streets in the U.S. named after him, Martin Luther King Jr. is a well-known, well-respected activist, and admired by many.
But what does that really mean to me today?
Perhaps today I’ll grab my phone, Google a popular MLK quote, edit it across one of those famous pictures of him speaking at the Lincoln Memorial, and post it on Instagram. Or if I’m really invested, I’ll write an incredibly nice paragraph on Facebook about how we should all treat each other justly, sing a couple lines of “We Shall Overcome,” and call it a day. Maybe that person who is rude to me will read it and feel guilty about treating me badly. Maybe my parents will see it and feel proud. Or maybe it’ll just be one in a million posts that everyone expects to see today and no one will read it at all.
My challenge to myself and everyone else this year is to make 2014 unlike any other year. Equality is not just about skin color. It encompasses every individual’s right to life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. While we may not often agree with each other, our resolve to love each other despite our feelings or convictions is what must prevail. That also includes doing whatever we can to help those less fortunate than us. If we see others treated unjustly at work, school, home, or anywhere and do nothing, we have failed to help keep the dream alive. MLK said once that “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
The challenge really begins with us. Every day we have the opportunity to make someone else’s life better. At the end of time I believe God will ask us all for an account of our actions, and I want to stand firm in the knowledge that I did everything in my power for the betterment of myself and others. This challenge begins within. We must truly learn to love others, not judging those around us because of their skin color, choice of dress, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, political positions, or personal aspirations.
We also need to forgive. Forgiveness does not nullify that the actions have taken place, and may not necessarily involve complete
forgetfulness because we are still human. However, it is the ability to look an individual in the face who has wronged you and be at peace.
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” — MLK.
Do something different today than you’ve done every other year. Help someone in need; settle a disagreement; say hello to a stranger. You may never know whose life you have changed.
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” –MLK.
In the end MLK’s dream was that we could all live in a world of peace. If we aspire to be different, little by little, we can keep that dream alive.
Don’t let the dream die with you.
Into the August Red is a lifestyle and fashion blog by A. Brown. Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved.