On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

drking1Today is Monday, a federal and state holiday to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  His actual birthday is January 15, but the federal holiday falls on the third Monday of January so that we can get a three-day weekend.  Or, as I wrote the other day, if you’re a Virginia State employee, you get a four-day weekend.

It’s actually Saturday evening as I write this, and I’m feeling a little melancholy.  I don’t know why.  I certainly can’t pinpoint a reason other than lingering effects from last fall’s health issues (which are much better, but not over).  It was a good day.  I worked in my office on Saturday morning, got the second Christmas tree down (I’m not done).  Then we went with friends to see the Forbidden City exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  We had a late lunch in Carytown.  I don’t know if my friends could see that I was fidgety and distracted.  But, I knew it.

What does that have to do with the legacy of Dr. King?  Nothing, really. It has more to do with the fact that sometimes writing means struggling through the cobwebs and the mess to write anyway.  Sunday is a very full day.  This has to be written on Saturday night.  But enough of that.

Much will be said about Dr. King and his legacy.  There will be speeches, sermons, tributes.  The majority of them will be far more eloquent than anything I can write here.

The movie Selma is playing in theaters right now and has been nominated for Best Picture.  I’ve not seen it yet, but I want to.

But see, it’s when I read the actual words of Dr. King that I have to ask myself. “What am I going to do about it?

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over a year ago, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial, I wrote:

I’ve come to realize that my task is to make the world around me a better place. To do what I can in my own realm of influence. Maybe that’s a little public policy. More than likely it’s community involvement, like supporting my church, supporting the arts, supporting great causes. [Make this world a better place]

I’m spending a lot of time in the arts these days. I know, as I have written, that I will not make the world a better place through politics.

But I read the news of the terrorist attack in Paris or the thousands of deaths in Nigeria and I wonder what I can do.

Sure, I can post outrage on Facebook, or I could even blog about it.  But what does that do other than give me a false sense of having “done something.”

I don’t have the answers here.

I don’t know that Dr. King had all of the answers.  He most certainly never saw his dream come true.

But I believe he was headed in the right direction.

I hope I am also.

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