(poster available at www.art.com)
It is Martin Luther King Day here in the US and I was doing some thinking about MLK, my life and the community around me. I think that MLK was a hero for the ages. I was lucky enough to visit the memorial for him in Atlanta a few years back and it was truly meaningful. I respect MLK for his many great qualities of leadership and humanity and public speaking. But, I also was thinking about how it would be to live your life like he lived his – with almost singular purpose, with tenacity and believing in a dream. I think today we lack leaders with these qualities. It seems that so many of our leaders – whether politicians or businesspeople or sports figures – have so many different things on their plate, and are so easily deterred from taking action or taking a stand and are living in “reality” without considering how believing in a dream could change the world.
Then I thought about myself. I am suffering from these things as well. I have so many things going on in my life and none of them are really priorities for me. I just flit from one project to another without considering what it is I REALLY want to be doing. This age of multi-tasking has almost made approaching life with a singular or narrow focus something to look upon with disdain. I really feel the need to figure out where my focus should be and then to simplify my life based on that focus. What do I REALLY care about? If I could only do ONE thing for the rest of my life, what would that one thing be? What about you? Are you moving through life without any focus? Are you simply riding the current along downstream or are you planning your path and focusing on where it is you want to end up?
I am also easily deterred. I used to approach things with some tenacity. But, now I give up easily on things. If challenges arise and things don’t seem to be moving along smoothly, I’ll just change direction and move somewhere else. So, to continue the metaphor, I seem to be drifting down river with no destination in mind and when obstacles arise in the river, instead of figuring out a way around them, I simply change direction and catch the next current to whereever that is going. The problem is that I don’t necessarily get to experience what I want to experience because I am easily deterred. Part of that is because of the first problem. Without a specific destination or plan in mind, there is no reason to struggle or fight when the obstacle arises. Why not just change direction and take the easy way? With a destination and a plan, you have a reason to struggle and fight when those inevitable obstacles arise.
Finally, I too am trapped in reality. I don’t really have a dream for which I’m living and striving. I have some things that I may find interesting or appealing or frustrating, but I don’t necessarily have a dream for what I want my life and the life of my community to be. That is what I am taking away from this MLK day. MLK had a dream – a vision for society that was a good one. He used that dream to make a plan and establish a destination he wanted to reach. He then had the tenacity to overcome the obstacles that arose in his path. And, even in death, he was able to motivate and inspire thousands, perhaps millions of others to make the world a better place.
So, what is it I want to pursue to make the world a better place in some small way? What about you? What is it that you think you can do to make the world a better place in some small way? What is your dream? What can you do to make it a little more real? I’m going to spend some time thinking about that today…I hope you will join me.