Monday, January 18, 2010

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. We, over here, toiling away on project, What You Can Do felt it would be nonsensical to ignore the fact that today, the nation stands together in celebration of a man who shaped our country’s history and did what he could to further our collective humanity.

This week, What You Can Do 365, addresses the issue of poverty. However, today we at On the Leesh, wanted to take a step back and acknowledge that some of the inspiration of the entire project comes from the enduring optimism of heroes like, Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not an expert on the man. Nor am I an expert on the movement. While this project and this holiday have a very obvious connection, I didn’t want to pretend to sit here at my computer and write as if I am an authority. Instead, I thought a first step would be to think about some of the words that are bandied about today. One word that came to my mind was tolerance. Not having a next step, I looked the word up for the exact definition. Among other entries on I found this: “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc, differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.”

“Freedom from bigotry.” I love the way that sounds; the phrasing of it. The definition begins so clinically with words like “fair”, “objective”, “permissive” and then they offer this epic sounding phrase, “freedom from bigotry.” It makes it sound as if it is something someone can offer you. It makes it sound as if it is something that a place or country can offer you. It is so hopeful sounding; so optimistic.

Following my word path I decided to look up some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches. For if anyone can offer words that, when strung together permeate hope, it is he. I opted to look at a speech I was less familiar with and read the speech he gave when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Before me were beautiful, delicious, moving words like “audacious,” “audacity” and phrases like “the eternal oughtness”.

Then I read on and everything came full circle. My eyes scanned the following:
“Most of these people will never make the headlines and their names will not appear in Who's Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvelous age in which we live -- men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization…”

This at its essence, my friends, is the spirit of What You Can Do 365. Nobody will know if you sponsored a woman in Africa. Nobody will know if you switched to “green” cleaners or if you’ve donated clothing to a shelter. Yet you’ve joined this anonymous body of people who together can move beyond indifference and apathy and change this world. Among you are others who, like you, have claimed responsibility for their world and are taking action. It’s all of us, standing together for the action and not the recognition of bettering our surroundings in every way possible.

All of us here at What You Can Do 365 wish you an everlasting Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

Here are some links we found over here on the man and the movement. Please check them out!

And to watch the entire "I Have a Dream" speech - watch this.

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