Friday, February 1, 2013

Day of Service


The inauguration of President Barack Obama for his second term was extra special because it coincided with the day that is observed as public holiday to commemorate the birthday of famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.  His birthday is also a day of service.  On this day Americans engage in different acts of service in their community, a reflection of an important American value - that of volunteerism


So Americans volunteered at hospitals and food kitchens, refurbished schools, supported military families, cleaned the environment and engaged in numerous other acts of service.  Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Marking his birthday by serving is therefore a fitting tribute to a man who served others and paid with his life for it.  While speaking on his life at a lecture he presented at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terrence McCulley said “Martin Luther King Jr. became famous for his contributions to the civil rights movement in the United States, but his impact extended around the world and his legacy has influenced subsequent non –violent movements from Tibet to the “Occupy Wall Street” phenomenon, as people volunteered their time to come together for a common cause.”

The Ambassador spoke of several distinctive features of Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle that could be applied anywhere in the world today.

-  First he never stopped fighting for justice, but he fought in a non-violent way

-  He objected to what he called “the myth of time.” This suggests that only time can solve problems but Dr. King insisted that time is neutral and can consciously be used either constructively or destructively.

-  Dreams must be paired with effort.  Dr. King achieved his dreams because of the work he put into making them come true, and he effected change because he refused to rest until he saw it.

-  Dr. King believed that we are all interrelated and that “whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

Ambassador McCulley ended by stating that “We celebrate Dr. King’s legacy every January because the lessons that we learned from it remain relevant each year.”

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