20 JAN, 2020
Every year on MLK Day , we are reminded of the brilliant teachings by Martin Luther King Jr. Our Instagram and twitter feeds are flooded with quotes by the visionary. The quotes, while poignant and beautiful, tend to remain on the surface of our psyches. To do justice to MLK is to manifest his words in our lives. Below are a few of his most popular quotes along with an explanation on how we can apply them to our daily lives.
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
There is no injustice too small to be unworthy of our attention. Every historical movement began with a collection of small acts. To manifest MLK is to refuse silence when we witness unfair treatment. One way I try to embody this quote is by holding those around me accountable when they use offensive language. As easy as it would be to walk away, I try my best to stay and act with compassion when educating someone on their words. Doing the right thing is also helping those in need because we have the opportunity to. This can look like you giving up your seat for an elder, helping someone carry a heavy load, or caring for a friend who needs emotional support.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
In our daily lives it’s imperative that we move through the world operating from a place of love. MLK understood the destruction that can arise from hate and implored for society to practice empathy. For us, this can mean that we practice compassion through giving people the benefit of the doubt, volunteering for an organization we believe in, or demanding respect for ourselves. MLK practiced love and light by pioneering for the voiceless; his actions weren’t docile nor were they non-confrontational, but his intent was noble and calculated. Allowing light and love to influence us will purify our intentions ensuring that we never succumb to the temptation that is anger.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Life is comprised of ups and downs. Disappointment is inevitable, but so is success. It’s crucial that we maintain a strong sense of hope during our lows otherwise we may block our potential to reach our highs. If we neglect to accept the finite disappointment of life, we can get trapped in a ‘woe is me’ attitude and leave ourselves closed off to the good. To have infinite hope is to understand that life works in seasons and every season must end. To honor MLK would be to continue to allow hope to infiltrate every part of your life despite whatever hardship you may endure. It would be to believe in the potential for a better future because that mindset benefits not only you, but society as a whole.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
I know first hand that believing in something you can’t see can be difficult. Taking a leap of faith with no indication as to whether or not we will succeed is no easy feat, but it’s what MLK held close to his heart. Progressive movements don’t exist without those involved looking around at their given circumstance and deciding that they can create something better than what’s being offered; it’s looking at rubble and seeing a utopia. To succeed in life, is to have faith that as you progress there will always be a landing; it is to know that if you take a step and there is nothing there, that eventually the staircase will form. MLK built his life upon faith, for us to do the same would be to manifest him.