My King Legacy

http://cdn.hiphopwired.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/ph2007122101527.jpgWe honor Martin Luther King not only with a holiday but with a legacy.  He was a remarkable and extraordinary man, and is deserving of our accolades.  The clarity of his vision, the power of his words, and the courage of his actions warrant our deepest respect, and they ought to trigger our most fervent responses. 

I have enjoyed observing how different friends of mine choose to honor King's legacy.  Some opt for service, while others participate in demonstrations on issues advanced by Dr. King.  Even more admirable, many of my friends involve their children in these activities, committed not only to living out Dr. King's principles but to impressing their importance upon the next generation.

I am proud of how my friends use Martin Luther King weekend.  It is instructive and convicting for me, because it is not how I spent last weekend, nor how I usually spend that weekend.  My annual pattern is forged by the hustle and bustle of the holidays leading right into our annual trip to California to see my parents.  By the time we return in late December or early January, we face a mountain of personal and work related responsibilities to catch up on.  By mid-January, I am gasping for space to get fully caught up and/or to decompress after a furious rush to stay on schedule. 

I confess with shame that my first (and, sometimes, only) reaction to seeing Martin Luther King weekend looming on the calendar is that it is a welcome respite, a much-needed gift of extra space for me time.  This past weekend, when some marched and others served, I capitalized on the extra day in the weekend to assemble Ikea furniture for my bedroom and watch stand-up comedy on Netflix. 

Now, obviously, rest is a good thing.  And there's nothing inherently wrong with tending to your own house.  But I can't help but be struck by the dissonance between how I spent my holiday weekend and how others did, or more precisely with what sort of lens I viewed the extra day off.  For me, it has been an opportunity to look inward and take care of myself, whereas the spirit of the weekend has become about serving others and connecting to broader causes. 

I tend to downplay specific occasions.  For example, in my mind Christmas and Easter are special but only to the degree that we carry the Christmas and Easter messages with us throughout the remainder of the year.  Martin Luther King weekend ought to be the same, in that the things we commit to on those days ought to be things we continue to push on beyond that weekend.  My immediate takeaway from this past weekend is that I missed out on many local opportunities to contribute and engage.  My longer contemplation will be to examine the extent to which I do or do not do so throughout the year. 
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