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Will You Make a Difference This MLK Jr. Day…and Beyond?

MLK, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. (photo by author)

As we are  approaching Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, many people are looking forward to time off work. Some will enjoy a short trip to see family or friends. Others, however, may have different thoughts that come to mind, reflecting on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message.

The older among us may remember King and his fight for civil rights, the Watts Riots or the nationwide rioting after King was murdered. Those not as old, may remember the riots following the Rodney King beating in Los Angles. Some younger folks may have in mind the Ferguson riots.

What these events had in common, is that they were responses to unloving attitudes and actions between races. One side felt their rights were being trampled on. Others thought justice was not being done. Some saw privilege and racism, while others saw lawlessness and disrespect. None of these attitudes — which often lead to actions — can be present in people who wish to live in community. The problem is that too many times we work for our own welfare while neglecting the welfare of others, or worse: we walk over other’s freedoms in pursuit of our own happiness.

Fortunately, we have guidance, principles, even mandates, from sacred texts that if followed, will alleviate, if not eradicate, many of the divisions we see today.

One of these is found in the words of Jesus, in Luke 6:27-28:

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

To make it even simpler to follow, Jesus later said in verse 31, what would become known as the Golden Rule,

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

How much easier could it get? Before I speak or act, I just need to consider whether that word or action would be one that I would like to receive toward me.

If it isn’t, then don’t say it, don’t do it. It’s really that simple

Maybe this year, instead of just enjoying a couple of days off, we could use this remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr. to recommit to living more by the “Golden Rule,” showing others respect and dignity, treating others as we would like to be treated.

This is my commitment; will it be yours?
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This post (written by Daryl Densford) originally appeared edited in The Guidon on 11 January 2018, titled What Does Martin Luther King Jr Day Mean to You.
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