Sunday, January 20, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. day. That means a day off of school, a day without mail, a day when the bank is closed, and my deposit shows up late. These are the things I am usually thinking about while I'm enjoying the 3-day weekend. I'm afraid this is what most national holidays amount to in the end. For extra credit I read "The Letter from Birmingham Jail," and I kinda feel bad about planning to sleep in tomorrow morning. I have never read the letter before (I made it a point not to read much of anything for the majority of my life... I'm working on it though), and I'm sorry that I waited until today.

Martin Luther King Jr. obviously did a lot of great things in his lifetime, but what I like about him most is his sense of how to bring about change. In the letter, he mentioned an idea that Pipher has been talking about in her book on writing. The idea was that you can't sit around waiting for some magical solution to present itself. As King suggested, "[one] cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham...Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea" (par. 5). In other words, if you want to make a change in the world, you have to enact a call for action. Whether you do so in writing by sharing someone's story, or in person by presenting the issues through a demonstration, you have to make solutions happen or you are nothing but part of the problem. I know this idea sounds cliche', but I have never found it as true as I did today.

Martin Luther King Jr. not only dedicated his life to making changes in our country, but he also left behind a legacy that shows each and every person the most effective way to make a change. He was not afraid to speak his mind, sharing stories and ideas that inspired our nation to see things differently. He then took responsibility for the responses, both positive and negative, to those ideas. So tomorrow when I wake up an hour later than I should and enjoy the extra day without class, I will try to remember the man and the ideals that are being honored. I sincerely hope you do the same.

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