January 13, 2017
Monday is a national day of service – this weekend, seek out ways to make a difference in your communities.
On the third Monday in January, individuals across the nation rise together in service to our communities to honor civil rights activist and unity visionary, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now more than ever, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder to support the vision of a united, inclusive, multiracial, diverse nation.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our organization has been criticized in the past for our celebration of this holiday by Humanists who disesteem King’s message because of his faith, which was an integral part of his identity. But divisiveness was not.
King came from perspective of Christianity and promoted ecumenical unity, an inherently divisive concept marginalizing non-christians. However, if he were here today, in an openly perspective-diverse nation, wouldn’t he see beyond the barriers of his faith? King looked on the world through a lens of inclusion; rather than ecumenical unity, couldn’t he evolve to focus on human unity? Some people are pent by their faith or non-faith and are not courageous or compassionate enough to truly value those of different perspectives. Would King have been? Are we?
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
King was a vehement advocate of equity for all races; would his vision have been mature enough to see the evidence of inequities, discrimination, bullying, and other unacceptable transgressions against people of non-faith and minority faiths?
How can we, in our small spheres of influence, both honor his work to overcome the sadly still-relevant racism in America and further celebrate and promote a message of inclusion for all?
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
King made a famous, uneducated response to a youth who asked him for advice about his feelings of attraction to other boys (Ebony Magazine advice column, 1958). The response was misinformed, but it was not judgmental. While it may lead some to believe he was blind to diversities beyond colour, he did not have the culturally facilitated opportunities for enlightenment that we are privileged to have today. That statement was made 11 years before the Stonewall riots that began the journey toward equality and brought the LGBTQ+ community into the national diversity conversation. Dr. King was tragically assassinated the year before Stonewall.
Subsequent to the riots, his wife, Coretta Scott King, joined the efforts to stand for LGBT equality, as she felt that her husband would have done the same. Mrs. King said: “I’m proud to stand with all of you, as your sister, in a great new American coalition for freedom and human rights.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.“
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Those who value and speak for equality only for the demographics of which they are a member are brave self-advocates whose voices make a difference, but they are not true inclusion champions. When equality is one of our core personal values, we join the conversation to promote inclusion for other marginalized demographics when we learn about, and have compassion for, their challenges. We become an ally.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Uniting people through service
One of King’s core values was service, and he lived his life in service to others. On the third Monday in January we strengthen our communities by joining with others – of all diversities, of all faiths and non-faith perspectives – to make a difference. We make the world a better place through service; we are empowered to overcome challenges through service; we are connected to one another through service.
As Humanists, we value action-oriented, solution-focused answers to the needs in our communities. Tomorrow, on MLK day, honor your lifestance of Humanism by putting your values into action and engaging in service.
FIND SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES
From the Corporation for National and Community Service:
After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”
MLK INFORMATIONAL LINKS
Local Events & Info: