“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have read things all day where people have shared the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. on their lives and the history of this country. I suppose that I do this every year on this holiday, but I could not really remember the last time I so vividly thought about the ramifications of his actions.
Perhaps, I have just taken them for granted because I did not live during that time, and thankfully have not known a world of segregation and racial inequality. Throughout my life, I had and still have friends of various backgrounds, upbringings, races, and genders. My parents always raised me to treat everyone for who they are, not what they are. But, I am not naive to think that this is the same for everyone.
In July, we will be 50 years removed from the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For me, that is beyond a lifetime. For my parents and many others I know, they grew up in that world. Today’s holiday is a very real testament to how far they have seen our nation come throughout their life. I could not even begin to imagine.
However, the fact remains that injustices still exist. People still choose to hate on others in both word and action for their gender, race, wealth (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, political affiliation, or any number of other things. It is an unfortunate reality of the world in which we live.
We must do better as individuals, as a society, as a nation. We must do more than not hate in our words and actions. We must refuse to be silent for those who are suffering injustices. It is not enough to say that does not affect me. It is not enough to turn a blind eye, and just go about living our lives. We must be better.
Our nation is founded on principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These principles are not for a chosen few. These are for everyone. Yet, every day we see acts of violence or hatred against groups or individuals that do nothing but look a certain way or have a certain belief. I hear and read words that attack people as trash, thugs, garbage, and a number of other words not fit to print.
We must be better.
Some might ask, how?
What if you did something positive or selfless tomorrow for someone else regardless of who they are or who we think they are? It does not have to be anything brave or courageous. Just something that made that person feel valued without expecting anything in return.
What if you spoke up and stood up for someone tomorrow who is being treated unfairly regardless of who they are or how we feel we might be perceived for doing so? Again, nothing noble or heroic. Just something that lets that person know that someone is on his side, or has her back.
What if you just cared for others and showed compassion for them regardless of who they are and without letting our own circumstances interfere? This does not take much. A kind word, a warm smile, and helping hand.
Imagine that kind of world. Imagine the impact of every individual joining together to assist every other individual in our joint pursuit of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. How truly freeing would that be?
Choosing to spill hate, violence, anger, etc. toward others is one form of injustice. Failing to do anything for others when we are all perfectly capable of acting and speaking up is another. We must be better.
Let’s be better today.