The great Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered for many things during celebrations to honor him today and Monday — activism, humanitarianism, non-violent civil disobedience, his Christian faith — but it is his call to service that we hope will be the mantra of residents of all races as we join together to make the world a better place for all.
Dr. King believed in a non-violent world where people were judged “by the content of their character,” and he saw that character rising from a desire to reach a helping hand out to someone else.
In one of his many famous speeches, Dr. King was quoted as saying, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
As we prepare to honor Dr. King, let us all ask ourselves that question and, more importantly, if we cannot answer it with an affirmation of action, then let’s make the commitment to find a way to do so, celebrating a great man by modeling our lives after his own.
In the last decade, most of our presidents have done that on the King holiday, choosing to serve in soup kitchens or homeless shelters as a way of paying tribute to a man who had great vision and who believed in reaching out to people of all races and helping them in whatever way he could.
Part of that vision allowed him to see a world where people were willing to help one another, looking beyond color, social status and position to a person’s heart. It’s a powerful message that takes few, if any words, but rather action laced with genuine love for one’s fellow man.
That’s what we are calling for today — actions that speak far louder than words and kindness that draws people together far faster than violence ever will. We live in tumultuous times where the evil actions of a few have caused a rip in the relationships we have worked so diligently to build between men and women of all races and religions.
We should not allow the bad apples among us to stir old prejudices and feed hatred. If we work, hand-in-hand, side-by-side, helping others, providing service to those who are less fortunate we can restore the camaraderie and be reminded that love should bring us together.
Dr. King understood that, and he believed in it despite the tumultuous times in which he lived. He believed that God intended for people to love one another — no matter their religion, their color or their perceived importance — and to respect one another.
So do we.
You see, from where we sit a call to service is a call to action, a peaceful way of man helping man, brother reaching out to brother, sister to sister.
Right here in Sampson County, we have myriad ways to serve, with doors opened wide for all races to join in lending a helping hand to others, improving the quality of life for all those in Sampson.
And that’s where it starts, really, in our hometowns and in our own hearts. And from there it spreads.
While there’s no question race issues still exist decades after King’s death, we have to be honest enough with ourselves to figure out why. And then we have to do our part to end the injustices that still exist and work together to make the world a better place.
That starts by helping others, and allowing others to help you.
Too often people let others shatter their desire to help others. Dr. King did not. We shouldn’t either, not now, not ever.