In doing some research on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I discovered a quote that I haven’t read before but is great advice for all of us.
“Whatever career you may choose for yourself – doctor, lawyer, teacher – let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life. It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man. Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(April 18, 1959, Youth March for Integrated Schools Speech)
Being a “dedicated fighter for civil rights” sounds intimidating because our initial impression is, “Well, I can’t do that. It is a full-time job.” Yes, for Dr. King it was. But this quote reminds us that it doesn’t need to be a full-time job. Each of us can, in a multitude of small ways, dedicate our time, efforts and passion towards human rights.
Some of these ways include:
- Welcoming diversity into your neighborhood, church group or synagogue.
- Volunteering – whether it’s at a soup kitchen, shelter, or community center.
- Talking to your children and encourage them to accept people who may look or sound different than their family. We are all more alike than different.
- Staying informed about current and proposed legislation that may not impact you directly, but would have a great potential impact on society.
- Speaking up – be vocal about the support and services you believe are needed. You may think you’re only helping those you care about, but you are also helping others who feel similarly and are afraid to speak up.
It is easy to think “I’m only one person, I’m not making a difference,” but it is important to remember that no one person is responsible for change alone – it is the result of many people working together. After all, it was also Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said:
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”