Martin Luther King Jr. Day highlights an opportunity for us to reflect on our community, our hopes and dreams, and our path to a better future.
The Reverend King inspires us to not only pursue our dreams and goals but also to fight against injustice and social inequity. He challenges us to become agitators.
In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King talks about his desire to foster tension because the community has become complacent. He is referenced as an “outside agitator.”
We still need agitators.
As Reverend Martin Luther King Jr said in his “I have a dream…..” speech:
When we allow freedom to ring when we let it ring
from every city and every hamlet, from every state and
every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all
of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and
Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join
hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,
“Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are
free at last.”
Consider some of these statistics:
- There are now 47 million people living below the poverty line which is more people than during Dr. King’s time.
- A recent study conducted in Seattle found that the “first available taxi stopped 60% of the time for a white student but less than 20% of the time for a black student .”
- Homeless children are at a historic high of 2.5 million (2016), an 8% increase over from 2015, which means one in 30 children don’t have a home in the US, one of the top 10 wealthiest countries in the world.
So today, tomorrow, this month, or even this year, step up your game and cause some agitation wherever you find complacency.
1. Dare yourself to “be” the change.
What does that look like to you? What would you need to risk in order to be the change?
2. Dare yourself to stand up to injustice and inequality.
Next time speak out when there is an injustice or discrimination. Take the risk of some people not liking you when you choose to voice and stand by your principles.
3. Dare yourself to take action to make your community more tolerant of diversity.
Reach out to someone who is not like you. Adopt a curious mindset and take time to learn more about someone else’s situation, culture, interests, or background. Everyone has a story.
4. Dare yourself to help those who are less fortunate, disenfranchised, or marginalized.
Lend a hand and give generously. When you dehumanize others, it becomes easy to treat others abusively and disrespectfully.
5. Dare yourself to keep dreaming and to have hope.
Hold steadfast to your vision. Rise above the naysayers. With all the negativity in the news, it is easy to become discouraged and lose hope. Reconnect with your ‘why.’ How can you put your values into action? What is your dream? How do you want to make a difference? You matter. There is power in one person; there is power in a single vote.
6. Challenge your status quo.
What keeps you living small and not big? What is one small step you could take today that is outside your comfort zone? 5-4-3-2-1 Go and do it.
7. Dare yourself to take action to promote a more perfect Union, even if it means ruffling some feathers.
Inherent in change is a resistance to move forward. Not everyone will agree. Find the right tribe to propel your movement forward.
There is still so much to do to “form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Dream big, have hope, spread compassion, cause a ruckus. You can make a difference.
Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr. afterward by Jesse Jackson
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Featured image by John Hain @ Pixabay