Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK Day, yet again

One good thing about having been a blogger for so long – ten years+, now  –  is that I have a vast store of “content” to draw on. And as every good marketer knows, repurposing “content’ is where it’s at.

And so, out of nearly sheer laziness – not to mention pre-inaugural Trump fatigue – I’m repurposing last year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day post, which you can find here.

Not much different from what I would write today, anyway. Mostly about growing up in a lily white world with next to zero interaction with African Americans. And about how racial issues continue to plague our country. Sigh…

Besides being somewhat observed as a no-school, no-mail day, MLK Day is somewhat observed as a national day of service, in which people take on some volunteer task or another. This is in response to Dr. King’s words that “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'“

I don’t know if I necessarily agree with the good doctor here. To me, the most persistent (if not exactly urgent) questions are: What’s the point of all this? Is there anything afterwards? And (increasingly) WTF???

But I guess as a reframing of my first question, “What are you doing for others?” ain’t bad.

In truth, I won’t be doing much of anything for others.

The HVAC folks are coming for the semi-annual checkup. Once they leave, I’ll head out for a physical therapy session for my no-big-deal tendonitis. I have something due to a client. That’s about it.

On Thursday, I am doing some volunteering at St. Francis House, which this year I’ve vowed to get better at. (So far, I’ve put in a couple of shifts in the kitchen; on Thursday, I’m learning the ropes in the clothing room.) But it has nothing to do with MLK Day.

And yet, since something will have to do with MLK Day, I’ll make it this:

Martin Luther King, Jr. famously  - certainly more famously than the “What are you doing for others?”, which I’d never heard until I started googling about volunteering on MLK day - said:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

These words are hopeful, and they’re trenchant. Certainly more trenchant than the words of Theodore Parker, Unitarian abolitionist – words that King so concisely summed up. In a mid-19th century sermon, “Of Justice and The Conscience”, Parker wrote:

Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right.* I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.

Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Jefferson trembled when he thought of slavery and remembered that God is just. Ere long all America will tremble.**

Well, I can’t calculate the curve, either. But I like the point that “things refused to be mismanaged long.” For those at whose expense they’re being mismanaged, I’m sure it’s plenty long enough. But I like to think that it can’t go on forever. With slavery, Jefferson had plenty to tremble about. And, as Parker predicted, the Civil War was soon going to be making the country tremble big time.

I don’t think that’s what we’re looking at in the here and now, but we’re sure not in a good spot.

So I’m going to hang on to the thought of the arc of justice bending toward justice. And that “things refuse to be mismanaged long.”

Both pithy sayings, by the way. Ones that can easily fit into a 140 character tweet. Would that we had someone in a high place twittering with grace, intellect, heart, decency, and good will.


*No, not that right. Right as in “right thing to do,” not right as in alt right.

**Thanks to the Quote Investigator for this one.

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