“We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act…True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”- MLK World House
This year, America will observe Martin Luther King Day on January 19. On this day Americans recognize and honor the legacy of Dr. King — a legacy of peace, love and compassion. His life of greatness was cut short by fear and hatred. Therefore, on this day Americans take up his mission to establish peace through a vision that recognizes our interconnectedness by joining volunteers around the nation to serve.
In his essay, “The World House” Dr. King charges us to take responsibility for one another. King and many others who have worked to better humanity, recognize that we are a family, bound to one another. “We are inevitably our brother’s keeper because we are our brother’s brother,” he wrote.
In a world where tensions between religions, political factions, economic classes, and race are soaring high, we must reconnect with a sense of family and community. Within the vision that we are a family connected to one another through our Creator, there is the notion that we are morally bound to seek the well-being of all humankind. This shift in perspective would radically alters our social, economic and political structures. Dr. King comments, “when men and governments work devotedly for the good of others, they achieve their own enrichment in the process.”
We are defining our past, present and future with our actions NOW. Our history is tied to those who came before us, the current lives of those with us and the possibilities for those who come after us. In his essay King says, “Whether we realize it or not, each of us lives eternally ‘in the red.’ We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women.” If we are indeed indebted to and responsible for those who came before us and will come after us, how can we even begin to pay our dues?
It is through service for the other and through a life that is committed to betterment of all lives.We must work together, now, more than ever to create 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.”
But this connection is built upon the recognition of universal principles and values that we share. Dr. King writes, “reality hinges on moral foundations” One such value, which is being encouraged through making Martin Luther King Day a Day On not a Day Off, is service. King says, “The other-preservation is the first law of life. It is the first law of life precisely because we cannot preserve self without being concerned about preserving other selves.”
It is a principle that volunteers and community members around the world can testify to. Human history is littered with negative examples of individuals and governments simply concerned with the advancement of self, but King urges us to change that way of thinking and to embrace the other before ourselves.
On this day, on January 19, we honor the legacy of a great man, by putting this value into action. Through service and community based efforts, individuals around America will put the needs of their brother before their own, in hopes of rebuilding the communities that are so essential to the success of all.
On this day, let us heed Dr. King’s call to love one another as one family under God rooted in moral principles and values. Through compassion for our brothers and sisters, let us recreate the structure of the human family into one of love and peace not of war and hate.
For, “together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.”
To find a volunteer opportunity, connect to http://www.nationalservice.gov/special-initiatives/days-service/martin-luther-king-jr-day-service-0