We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
For as long as i can remember, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day primarily meant i got a day off from school. Compulsory education told me this day was meant to honor a charismatic man who facilitated the Civil Rights Movement, but that was the extent of thought i had given in consideration of this national “holiday.” Not until this MLK Day have i gained a deeper understanding and genuine appreciation for what this day, this man – and his legacy – means to me.
In his letter from Birmingham Jail, King, Jr. remarked, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This rings true in my soul, especially when i remind myself of the atrocities, inequity, and overall misfortune around the world, and recall our common constitution as human beings. Who among us truly doesn’t want to be happy, to belong, and to be free of suffering? In this way, i continually wonder how i might better serve Others, and do so as best as i can. Perhaps as we remember our interconnectedness with the Universe and feel the unparalleled beauty of unity with All That Is, we feel less isolated and more engaged to be a small, but nonetheless significant, part of a greater whole.
A wonderful way to do this is through compassion – a Transformative Power that has the potential to create immediate and everlasting change, as exemplified by Martin Luther King, Jr. Despite facing dire and often hostile circumstances, the revolutionary reverend chose to respond with love instead of reacting with fear. Similar to his example, when i find myself in seemingly tumultuous times where i may feel an ego-based urge to be passive aggressive or to fight fire with fire, i do my best to become aware of it, and allow my breath to cleanse the negatively charged energy, to transmute it into positive action, or to gently let it go. It’s a rather challenging practice, for sure, yet there are abundant opportunities to make progress, starting right Here and Now.
For me it seems to come back to compassion for Others, for the environment, and especially for ourselves. The Dalai Lama once said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” How can we act compassionately with those who will inevitably test our limits if we are unable to honor ourselves with unconditional love? Have you smiled today yet? Have you thanked yourself for being who you are? Smile! You are alive and you are exactly who you are supposed to be!
This moment, this new beginning, fills me with joyful optimism. It is at once comforting and empowering to understand that just as Martin Luther King, Jr. had the power to be a leader of something he believed in, i also am able to pursue that which feels right to me, that which will bring about the Greatest Good for the benefit of all. We all have the potential to contribute in our own ways, for we are all blessed with our own talents and abilities. What is essential, as King Jr. encouraged, is that: “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” May we all recognize and reclaim our inherent Transformative Power – that is, our ability to Love unconditionally – and choose to be co-creators of the reality that defines our ephemeral existence as humans and contributes to our eternal experience as Spirit.
Happy MLK Day to each of you…every day.