MLK Day – Volunteer Reflection 2015

Eric Olsen
January 26, 2015

Seven year-old Yoshi hauled his bucket of mulch, checking each newly planted shrub he passed. When he found one without mulch, he stopped to dump the mulch. He then filled his bucket to begin again. Behind him his cousins and little brother trailed with their buckets.

Their jackets were long forgotten as the labor warmed their bodies in the morning cold.  The little boys had woken early on January 19, to make their day OFF a day ON. 

Later, standing around the refreshment table, cramming their well-earned “Heavenly Donuts” into their mouths, the boys talked about what they had learned.

Yoshi said through his donut, “Responsibility.” When asked what he meant by that, he paused before replying, “Doing things to help even when you’re not asked to.”

And it was true. The adults would have been okay if each child had just planted one shrub and called it a day. But, after each boy dug their hole, planted their tree, and mulched it, Yoshi and the others picked up their buckets and continued to work mulching unmulched plants. 

In reflection, this small lesson learned on Martin Luther King Day of Service is at the heart of the matter. The blog entitled, “On This Day – Taking up Dr. King’s Mission through Service” mentioned Dr. King’s call for a “world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation…an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men.”

To do that, we have to look beyond just our own trees, as Yoshi and his cousins did on Martin Luther King Day, to care for all three trees planted along the riverbeds. And service is an active way to remind us that we are connected as one family under God; it is a visceral reminder that we are indeed responsible for each other, and we can extend our hands to take responsibility, even when we’re not asked to.

H.I.T. is a blogger for www.globalpeace.org

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