"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' "
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is in just a couple weeks, on Jan. 20, and this quote is reverberating around my brain. These words are more than a call to action. They are an invitation for introspection and reflection.
An ordained Baptist minister, Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights activist - love was Dr. King's motivation. He passionately believed, "Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love." In a time and place where hatred crushed black men and women - Dr. King's response was to create hope, justice, empowerment and equality for the oppressed. And to the threatened and abused he directed, "Let no man pull you low enough to hate him."
Dr. King understood that holding on to hate only weighs a man down from soaring to heights where positive, social change can occur. As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference - King left his home Atlanta to lead nonviolent demonstrations in Birmingham, Ala. - the epicenter of bombings, segregation and police brutality. His motivation for traveling shown through his letter from the Birmingham prison: "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here."
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," he said. "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
So, let's return to King's original question: What are you doing for to create justice for others? There are too many folks in the world in need for your answer to be "nothing."
Pick something you care about - homelessness, hunger, children, literacy, elder abuse - and do something. You do not need to devote your entire life as Dr. King did - but doing nothing is perpetuating injustice.
If you don't know where to start, look to the local Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee for inspiration. On Jan. 18, a Peace Walk will begin at the former Campbell Street Center and end at the Lycoming College Recreation Center, where at 9:45 a.m., a Day of Service will begin. Everyone is welcome to come assemble 40,000 meals for the local food bank.
The Day of Service, with a theme of "Promoting Peace Within Our Community" will include guest speakers, special presentations and light snacks.
The culmination of the MLK Committee's events will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 20. Tim Wise, a nationally renowned anti-racism activist and author, will speak at Pennsylvania College of Technology's Academic Center on West Third Street.
Wise, who has spoken at more than 600 college campuses, has been featured on countless news specials and has trained teachers, nonprofits and law enforcement in methods of addressing and dismantling institutional racism.
Thompson is the communications and development manager at the YWCA.