January 17, 2011
So, it's MLK Day. What are you going to do?
First off, let's ask the question "Why should you do anything?" After all, it's been a long year (17 days) already with numerous snow storms (no matter where in the country you live!), and today seems like the best day to sleep in, stay inside, and keep the pajamas on until morning.
And, as the Director of Intercultural Affairs, an office that lives by the mission of educating for social justice, challenging others beyond their own comfort zone, and being a social reminder of caring for others ... that's exactly what I'm doing today.
Props to my staff members who are working today, though. One is facilitating move-in for the remaining college students who stayed home to watch the game before returning back to school; The other is hosting a reflective exercise called Community Build which challenges participants to see the shared needs within a community.
Me? I'm here. I'm in my pajamas. And, with 20 degrees outside, slick ice and snow, and three small children, I'm going to stay here.
As a working mother who has no "cleaning crew" or "live-in nanny" or even children old enough to use cleaning solutions in the house, I use days off as a great time to catch up on household chores that will never get done during the work week. So, yes, as the director of intercultural affairs on MLK day, I will be doing 2 loads of laundry, getting meals ready for the week, and attempting to clean and vacuum my house in my pajamas.
But, be not fooled.
MLK Day is significant for me. It's the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work that most inspires me -- not just his vision for human equality, but his passion for justice, peace, and shared love. I also use this day as a time to remember that Dr. King was not just about the feel good sentiments that are emphasized about his life. Be not fooled. Dr. King was incredible because of his unrelenting commitment, drive and action to call people -- our country -- out on its most horrific ideas and actions.
If you are inspired to leave the house today and engage in your community, nearly every single town (or at least a town nearby) hosts a Day of Service. Please, please open your local paper or go online to your town's site and check out what has been arranged. If not a Day of Service, many organizations (churches, mostly) are hosting Teach Ins.
If, like me, you are unable to go out (not unwilling...but unable), here are a few ideas for the at-home version:
1. Get online and go to the King Center (www.thekingcenter.org) to read some of Dr. King's sermons, teachings and writings.
2. Read this neat story from Clarence B. Jones, a friend and speechwriter for Dr. King, about his recollection of the "I Have a Dream" speech.
3. Spend 17 minutes and watch the original speech by Dr. King.
4. Flip through the photo images of Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement
5. Crafty? Have your children trace and cut out paper in the shape of their open hand. Ask them "How might we be able to lend a helping hand each day?" Depending on their age, they might mention how they might help you -- make their beds, clean up their toys, put their clothes away. Encourage them to then see how they might help others outside of your home -- talking to a new friend at school, not wasting water, recycling paper. Let them color the hands in, post them in your house, and share with them that Dr. King believed that we are all responsible for lending a hand to others.
6. Want to know a bit more about what MLK believed and how timely it is for us now? Check out (an older) video from Ill Doctrine about 10 Other Things MLK Said. One of my favorites!
Do what you can. While some folks go all out on this day to engage in community service, some of us cannot.
MLK Day. It's not a day off. It's a day on.