We enter 2019 holding our breath. As the federal shutdown continues, I am watching friends, neighbors, students and others struggle to make ends meet. While we anxiously await elected leaders to effectively do their jobs and find workable solutions to our nation’s budget problems, we might feel powerless or without options. I’d like to remind you that this is not the case. Instead, I will offer a few recommendations that I’m going to take as I consider one of my favorite quotes from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
First, Dr. King was always concerned about others. If you are focused on supporting your neighbor, you have less time to focus on your own needs — or usually, your lack of some material thing. To this end, I have been contacting friends who work for the federal government to offer groceries or a meal. It may not seem like a lot, but when you are focused on other critical issues, a hot meal or bag of groceries is a true gift.
Second, Dr. King sought to defeat injustice, not people. This means, we ought to reach out to people we disagree with as well as those who share our values or beliefs to find out how we can help them. In doing so, we may have an opportunity to learn about a perspective we otherwise do not see, hear or understand. When we reach out to those who are different than us, we open the door to understanding and kindness.
Third, we can use these moments to educate ourselves and others about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in the United States while recognizing there are individuals, who are not citizens, who need and deserve the same kindness and support we would offer others. This might be a great time to pull out your U.S. and state constitutions to review your rights and responsibilities. It is also a wonderful time to connect with your elected leaders to share your goals and the reasons for the actions you would like them to take regarding our economic condition.
Fourth, we can get a little creative by connecting with our friends, neighbors and family to do for others. The saying, “Many hands make light work,” is timeless because it is true. On my own, I can buy a few bags of groceries or make a few dinners, but with a larger group, we can affect greater change for others in need of assistance.
Finally, we can recognize that we cannot do everything, but we can each of us, do something. This reminds me of another favorite quote by the Rev. Dr. King, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”
To this end, I encourage you to participate in everyday acts of service where you can. Take advantage of the Rev. Dr. King Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 21, when a critical mass of those wanting to do something for others will meet for the MLK Freedom Breakfast and March at Marshall White Center on 222 28th St. Ogden at 9 a.m.
This event is free and open to the public and provides an opportunity to make it a day on — not a day off — for service. This event is sponsored by the Ogden Branch NAACP and various departments and programs at Weber State University, including Black Scholars United, a student organization celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. For more information, contact Andrea Hernandez at 801-626-6957.
Anxiously waiting for others to act, leaves us anxious. January is a month to take action on behalf of others.