by Shannon Williams
As we face very challenging times; be it the financial crisis, homelessness and poverty, wars, and even natural disasters such as last week’s catastrophic earthquake in Haiti—I realize I can only turn to God and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose legacy we celebrated on Monday—to help me through these woeful times.
Here are some of King’s most insightful quotes and why I think his words remain relevant today.
“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
The saying, “one person can make a difference” is amazingly true. Many can relate King’s words to President Barack Obama’s promise of change and hope for a better future. While what Obama has managed to do in his quest to motivate millions around the world is certainly uncharacteristic of any American president, an attempt to initiate positive change doesn’t always have to be on such a large scale. As a matter of fact, you and I can individually improve this world simply by exhibiting acts of kindness. If everyone made a concerted effort to help the less fortunate and be nicer to one another, I’m confident we’d see an entirely different world.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
While injustice is the unfair or unjust treatment of someone, it can also mean the absence of action. When Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast and New Orleans four years ago, the government’s reaction was a form of injustice. Certainly individuals were treated unjustly, but the overall response efforts to the entire region exhibited blaring signs of injustice. President Barack Obama’s response to Haiti’s earthquake was prompt as he promised to aggressive aid efforts. Hopefully, we’ll see a tremendous difference in the treatment of the Haitians than we did in 2005 after the onset of Hurricane Katrina.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…”
“The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
Before anything can get better, we must first stop our counterproductive way of thinking, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Sometimes it’s best to simply eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive. In order to institute widespread change, we have to begin by doing what’s right and beneficial, rather than what’s wrong and revengeful.
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Over the years, I’ve learned that everything is not about me; rather it’s about all people. One who thinks only of themselves is an incredibly selfish and closed-minded person. It should be our acts of kindness, our good deeds that motivate us to do more and are ultimately most gratifying to us.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
There was one woman who was always mean and nasty to me. Every time I saw this woman, she would either ignore me or look at me in a very mean way. In addition to this unfavorable behavior, when I greeted her, she’d act as if she didn’t hear me.
Finally one evening I had enough. I vowed to myself that the next time I saw the woman; I’d intentionally not speak to her.
The next time I saw the woman happened to be during the Circle City Classic game a few years ago. As she walked in my direction, I reminded myself not to speak to her. Before I knew it, I said hello. I was so angry with myself for a couple of reasons: 1. The woman didn’t return the greeting and 2. By speaking to her, I’d broken the vow I made to myself.
Before the game was over, I had a new mindset: it takes more energy to be negative, than it does to be positive. So, during times other people choose to act ignorant, I opt for the higher road.
By the way, the woman who used to never speak to me, not only smiles and hugs me when we see each other, but also holds extensive conversations. Guess she had a revelation of her own.
(Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder.)