Monday, January 16, 2017
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day
Today, the day we remember and honor Dr. Martin Luther King and his dream, I reflect...
on me. On this country. On our psyche.
Dr. King was an incredible believer in truth and fairness, of equality, and peace. He was a deeply religious man and he lived his faith in God. He had a talent to orate and to move people. He was able to lead in an uplifting manner even in some of the worst of times.
I was a little girl when Dr. King led the civil rights movement in the 60's. So, I wasn't old enough to grasp the enormousness of it all at the time. I lived in a sheltered environment and as we all know, the technology for reporting news events was much different than it is now. I don't even really recall watching much of the evening news (and there was just that one half hour from 6:30 to 7:00pm each day) until I reached high school. (A side note: but I distinctly remember watching then and seeing the tally each newscast of the dead in the Vietnam conflict.)
So, I have received most of my education on the civil rights times and the movement, and of Dr. King, in other ways. I am sure I must have learned something of it in school. The basics perhaps. But, it wasn't really 'history' then. So, maybe not. I remember going on a Greyline Tour when I visited Atlanta when I was in my late 20's (my hubby was there on business and I used the day to sight-see.) I visited Dr. King Senior's church, and saw the King family home from the outside... and went through a huge dia-rama museum of the events. I saw a memorial with an eternal flame. Since then I have read many wonderful books on the subject, and have seen a few amazing movies too. If you have not seen "Selma" go! You must see it!
I was young when it all happened. And, so it makes me wonder about all the children since... what is taught in the schools to them? And, is it taught everywhere - rural and urban areas? The same material? Is today, the national holiday, discussed?
Not too long ago I read a book by Congressman John Lewis (yes, the one now in the news for stating he planned to stay home and not attend the Trump inauguration), and he talked of how changes take a very long time... sometimes lifetimes. It was a very inspiration book to me. Rep. Lewis was a young man who worked with Dr. King and marched with him in Selma.
So, I try and remember these words of his... that changes do not happen overnight. As I observe our country, I see changes coming about as generations do. Old people with old thoughts die. Young ones accept newer thoughts and don't carry the baggage.
Back to Dr. King. He was a man of peaceful protest. We live now in a time where there is a lot of peaceful protesting going on. I don't see it ending soon. Yes, we have an incoming president that is very divisive. Very untrained. Very quick to talk without much thought and care to his words. So different from someone like a Dr. King, or a President Obama.
I have jumped on the bandwagon of social media and have used it for pushing back. Yes, it's easy to do. And, it's a place I think I at least have some little voice - crying out. (Heck, I'm doing it right now.) I want to count. I want to matter. Wow! I think I just had an epiphany. I now know what it is like to feel like I don't really have a vote anymore, or to have a say in matters of this country. I used to feel my vote did count when I was younger. I use to believe in the system. I don't really anymore. And, I understand why our youth don't either I have become sad about it...and at times mad. I have lashed out. I have tried to argue my point. Perhaps I am experiencing a tiny bit (and I mean just a teeny tiny bit) of what the blacks felt for so long. Or the Hispanics who came here hoping for freedom and a better life. But not being heard or counting as a real human being. I think there must be nothing worse.
Yep. It's not a good feeling. And, it's not how I want America to be. This land of the free.... home of the brave (brave in thought - not just military.) Those coming here tired and poor, looking for value and opportunity.
So, here's something else I have been thinking about lately. Everyone knows: our country is VERY divided right now. I won't talk about how we got this way, or who all was involved in pushing the people apart. That would take too long!! ha BUT... here's something puzzling to me. Somewhere in each individual's brain is *something* (a spark, a connector, an in-born way) that makes them believe one way - or the other. Right? Because there is NO way possible it seems to change anyone's minds. But still we try. And why is that??
And, knowing this as true... how can we accept it and get along? Because we have to! How can we take the "I'm right and you are wrong" mentality away? How can we say we care but still not express our side?
I know I am to blame. Believe me. I know. Even though I have expressed to "Be Humble and Kind" for awhile now, today... this special day... I really hope to start acting it more. My new year's resolution perhaps? Show kindness. I just ordered the "MyIntent" bracelet with the word 'kindness' on it as a visual reminder to myself.
I will struggle. No doubt. Because I still try to find the right balance of totally caring about issues and the good for all people, and being annoying and loud mouthed. I know it won't be easy. But today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and everyday I will strive for more kindness.