Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Day in our country. It’s a day we honor the man, his work, and the legacy he left behind. His name came to my mind yesterday as I was watching the movie “I Am” again and this time, taking notes. The movie quoted King as saying, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Love for his brothers and sisters of all colors was what compelled King to work tirelessly for equal rights for all. He saw love as the only force capable of curing the ills of our nation and our world. He wanted us to live a life that didn’t cloak itself in “so whats” and “it’s not my problems”.
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today our President and his family chose to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service to others at a school in Washington, DC. While this act is surely being judged by some for its media and reelection scorebook value, it is arguably also a demonstration of that force King spoke of, that force of irrefutable strength, love. Speaking today, President Obama encouraged all citizens by saying, “There is nobody who can’t serve. There is nobody who can’t help somebody else.”
King stated, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” There are no acts that are so small that they don’t matter. Everyday acts build up over time to become great movements.
In explaining the power that we each have to shape our world, the “power of one”, Desmond Tutu, one of the great minds/hearts featured in Shadyac’s documentary, “I Am”, broke it down by saying that,
“The sea is really only drops of water that have come together.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was just one man, just one drop of water. He didn’t change the world single-handedly, but he did so by joining hands with others who also regard the power of one, conjoined with the power of love.
As a teacher of young children, I feel that one of my primary responsibilities is to guide students to ask the questions that will allow them to solve the problems created by all of us that came before them. Common sense and history tell us that problems cannot be solved by the same thinking that created them. We need a different kind of thinking, a different agenda, a different perspective.
While watching the documentary, “No Impact Man” this morning, I heard Colin Beavan state that at the project’s inception he wanted to become an “activist writer”. His statement made me ponder what kind of writer I’m growing up to be. And please, if you’re reading and contemplating an answer, I beg of you to follow the Golden Rule! My thinking sounded something like this:
I always start writing with the pure intention of doing no harm, of sharing my thoughts, and causing others to think. (Just as idle hands have been credited with being the devil’s workshop , I believe idle minds purchase a lifetime pass to Groundhog Day.) I admit sometimes I can get a little preachy (after all, I did sit in the pews for many years as the wife of a preacher-man), and occasionally I rant, (I’m a teacher concerned with the miseducation of our youth and I’m also menopausal, so get over it!), but hopefully I never pontificate. Because like Martin, I truly do just want to make the world a better place for you and me and all of our brothers and sisters. And yes, just like the O’Jays sang it, I want everyone to get on board the “love train”, to join hands and be an activist for love.
A few months ago I initiated a Make A Difference club at my school as a way to encourage kids to believe that even they, being young and with few resources, can make a difference. That’s just one small act. But combined with your small act, and that other person’s small act, and so on, together we can be the force for changing the world, one small act at a time. I think Martin would like that.