**No pictures… sorry!**
On April 16th, 2013, locations all around the nation read the letter from Birmingham Jail that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing 50 years ago. As part of my job, I assisted in coordinating an event at our Barnes and Noble on campus. We had 10 students/faculty members read a portion of the letter and then we had a facilitated discussion.
I had never read this letter before so as I was reading through it picking out quotes for discussion, things triggered within me. A lot of what Dr. MLK had to say in his letter is still relevant to this day. Race may not be as prominent of an issue as it was 50 years ago (although, don’t get me wrong, it’s still an issue), but these words can ring true for many other situations.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
This quote takes me back to events such as 9/11, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the Colorado shooting and certainly the most recent events of the Boston Marathon bombing and the West, Texas explosion. Whether we want to believe it or not, we are all affected by what happens to this country, the big and the small things. Let’s go back to our time as children… was it not the actions and events that happened in our life that shaped who we became later? If it weren’t for certain things that happened, wouldn’t we be different? I think about this when I hear the sad stories on the news…. If people had grown up with a different childhood or had been treated nicer at a certain point in their life, would they have still chosen to make the choice they made? PLEASE, I urge you to not read this as my defense for those that have caused mass terror and pain in the hearts of our country. This is me realizing that my actions make a difference, the words I speak make a difference. I am not the kindest person all the time and what if the one snide comment I make to someone I dislike causes a wave of terror on the lives of many? It’s possible, right? These events, this quote, and my personal quiet time lately have all encouraged me to be a better, kinder person.
“…the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be.”
This, again, brings me back to the Boston Marathon…. the runners that continued running to the hospital to give blood after completing 26.2 miles are extremists for the good. The bombers are extremists for the bad. What kind of extremist will you be? I know I desire to be an extremist for the good. Not just a luke-warm good, but the kind of good that goes above and beyond for others, that gives an arm and a leg when needed for a project or job, the kind of good extremist that gives the shirt off my back or the last dollar in my pocket. Everyone is extreme about something, everyone has a passion for something. Choose to be the good extremist because that will far outweigh the bad over time.
“nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”
I absolutely love this quote coming from Dr. MLK! He was a beautiful picture of using nonviolence in seek of a pure end. Just because I’m angry or upset about something doesn’t mean I need to go do something violent and destructive to prove my point or get vengeance. There are purer and nonviolent ways of getting the end you desire.
My hope for this post is that it causes you to think. I hope it causes you to remember the kind of extremist you wish to be. Every action, every thought, every word…. it comes with a price or a reward. You never know what kind of ripple you’ll make with hurtful actions and words towards others, but you know that the reward is great for those that control their anger, control their words, and strive to be the better person.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” – Luke 6:35
This is just something that I think is important for all of us to remember…