The beginning of 2013 has been strangely unsettling for me. I can’t find my rhythm, and although my kids seem to think I’m the most amazing mom ever, I don’t think my husband, friends and the strangers, I assume are trying to screw me at the Apple store, would agree.
When I feel adrift, I turn to words and prayer, which makes the greatest wordsmith of the previous century and one of the holiest, Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior, the perfect person to have a holiday this month.
But before I wax poetic, I also rely just as much on humor as words and prayer when I’m lost. I have seen laughter save more people than any solemn church ceremony or self-help book ever has. Luckily, I have the greatest Martin Luther King find, and I only have to repost like I do every year.
Now, I can move on to gleaning meaning and hope from his more recognizable words of wisdom.
Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ve already dubbed 2013 the Year of the Cynical Alex so it has not been lacking bitterness, but I’m aware, which probably makes it worse.
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. -Martin Luther King, Jr
Who hasn’t heard, felt or said, There will always be shootings, racism, sexism, rape, beatings, poverty, killings, or whatever it is that we are tired of, and thrown up our hands and walked away. But when we do nothing, we are a part of the problem. This one fits in nicely with the quote before it because bitterness is the great excuse to see only the ugly, the broken, the hopelessness. Bitterness allows me to be lazy and mean, which is where I’m most comfortable, but I don’t want to be part of the the problem.
Whatever career you may choose for yourself — doctor, lawyer, teacher — let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life. It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man. Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in. – Martin Luther King Jr.
This is my everything. This is why I write about gay rights, the death penalty, and support groups like Amnesty International. I may only have my feet, my purse and my voice, but I will not sit back and watch my fellow humans be deprived of their right to live a full and decent life. I will also not let who I am and want to be change because of another person’s actions. I will love whether another is capable of love. We don’t have to be millionaires on grand stages to make a difference. I have seen what an open heart can do.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sometimes we don’t even see that first step, and we take it anyway. Often these decisions, about how to love and support others and grow closer to God, are terrifying steps no matter where we are on the staircase. Perhaps, I am afraid to continue up mine. These aren’t my first steps, but I’ve walked for so long that I’m tired, and I wonder if they really go anywhere. Faith still applies. But so does hope. I have to believe in Greater Good so I can do greater good. It’s just the way I’m built. I want make a career of humanity, but I have to stay on my staircase to do it.
Thank you MLK. For your words. Your work. Your life. You are why we have an African-American president taking the oath of office for his second term today. Over 45 years after your death, you continue to inspire us all to be better today than we were yesterday.