Not only is it a new year, but it is also a year of governmental transition from what we’ve known and loved to the unknown. We are entering into uncharted territory with the change of administration this month. And, at best, many of us are left with a sense of unease and concern, as if we are holding our breaths hoping nothing bad happens.
This isn’t a great way to feel at any time and especially when it relates to those that are in power deciding our country’s fate. So what should we do to make ourselves feel better, where do we look, and who do we turn to?
A good place to start is with the inspiring words of the incomparable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which were relevant during his time and are still timely today. So to honor Dr. King, let’s use his words to help us draw courage and keep the faith to ensure we thrive over the next four years.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. This quote is right on time in 2017…as many of us are concerned that the next administration will not have our community’s best interests at heart. As Dr. King notes, now more than ever it is imperative that we don’t remain silent on the issues that affect our community and our children. We must stand up, speak out, and remain active about the issues and causes most dear to us. If we become silent, then we are just as guilty as those in power making decisions. Get active, stay active, make your voices, opinions, and views heard especially by those that are in a position to do something about it.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. This election was one of the most divisive and negative the country has ever experienced. It exposed many of the political, social, cultural, and religious differences our country faces. And so for our own peace of mind and for the sake of reversing the negativity, we need to follow the words of Dr. King and respond with love, positivity, hope, and remain in a place of light. Let the negative folks keep on being negative, but don’t let them steal your joy or taint your spirit, stay positive, stay loving, and as a result you will drive out the darkness.
The time is always right to do what is right -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
3. This quote is as true today as it was during Dr. King’s time. Even when you see wrong doing and know something isn’t right, you must continue to do the right thing yourself and help others to do right when you see they have gotten off track.
To me, this quote is about community and looking out for one another like they did in Dr. King’s time. It’s about keeping everyone moving forward, the right way, and not just ourselves and our immediate circle. We are our brother’s keeper.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
4. We are entering into a period of change with the new administration (as we do with every governmental transition), and we are not certain if many of these changes will benefit our community. I read this quote to mean that we have to stand up, organize, and struggle/fight against the changes that don’t benefit us…. we must also attempt to educate those in power who are making the decisions.
If we don’t stand tall and advocate for what’s right, they will roll right over our bent backs. But if we do stand-up, then at a minimum the powers that be, from the local level on up to the White House, will have no option but to take notice and incorporate our perspectives and positions into the changes and policies they wish to execute. Stand tall my people, we’ve done it before and we can and must do it again!
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others? –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
5. In 2017, we need to do more to take care of one another as a community. For example, take in a foster child, commit to doing some community service hours, volunteer at a local shelter, make donations of clothing, toys, books, food, games to community centers, orphanages, non-profit organizations that support and serve our community, write letters to and visit community members who are incarcerated, and raise money for a cause that benefits our community. By now you get the picture. Be more, do more, and we can rise and improve as a community.
Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
6. This lesson is always on time. It is so easy to let all the negative things that happen to us weigh us down and turn into bitterness which itself becomes a vicious cycle. Just remember that things happen that are outside of your control. However, what you have control over is how you respond to them.
I’m not going to sit here and act like life is easy, but if you allow the negatives to make you bitter then you’ve already lost. Finding that spirit of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and starting again is key….especially when you have a strong network of supportive friends and family who can help to lift you up and get you going again.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
7. What gets us through our toughest times, what helps us find a way out of the darkness, what we can always rely on when we are in the valleys of life looking up at the peaks … Faith. Now, more than ever, we need to have faith that good, truth, and right will prevail and if it doesn’t we need to work together to make sure it does. Always keep the faith and nothing will be able to get the better of you.
Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
8. If the system doesn’t work, then we need to change the system or go outside of it. For example, if you need a product or service, become and entrepreneur and make it yourself, chances are if you need it others do to. Buy from black or minority owned businesses when you can to help increase commerce and buying power within the community. If you need a loan and can’t seem to qualify for one, start a community “kitty” or an investment group with trusted friends and confidantes where you each put in a small amount monthly. And each month a different member of the group gets the pot. This is one way to keep money in the community and create economic resources and buying power outside “the system”.
I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
An interpretation of this quote in today’s context is you have to have a purpose, you can’t (and shouldn’t) do things just to do them, but rather do things for a reason and with purpose. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much spare time and I certainly don’t have time to waste, so I refuse to invest precious time doing things without a purpose.
When I do decide to undertake something, I always try to do it with an eye towards positively impacting or benefiting others. Bottomline: Find your purpose/direction, set your goals which include an element of community give back, and chase your dreams to the fullest.
The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
10. We all know that tomorrow is not guaranteed, so we have to make the most of today, right? In the end, quality of life – is what really matters. Celebrating your 100th birthday is a pleasant idea if the years that precede it are fulfilling and happy. So, here are a few things that will help us lead much happier, fulfilling, and richer lives regardless of how long that life ultimately is.
- We need to take stock and appreciate what we’ve got and worry less about what we don’t have.
- We need to love and appreciate those who love and appreciate us by telling them we love them and demonstrating our love every day.
- We need to have self-love and acceptance, instead of worrying about what we wish we looked like or what we can improve.
- We need to practice being present and in the moment, instead of thinking about a million other things.
- We need to focus on the things we’ve done instead of things we still want to do and take the time to celebrate our successes, and always stop and “smell the roses”.
In the spirit of all things that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr stood for (and the countless others who supported him), it is incumbent upon us today to live the best lives we can, to chase our dreams, to invest in ourselves and our community in both time and financial resources, to lift each other up and give back, and to become and remain politically involved never wavering in our demands. And now more than ever, we need to make sure our voices are heard and considered by the political establishment. In this way we honor Dr. King and ourselves through the best and worst of times.