Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is January 15th which happens to be my father's birthday. Born in 1930, he would have been 78 today.

Today is also the birthday of one of my heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader and social transformer.

Both of these men are very important to me, in very different ways, of course. I always thought it interesting that they shared the same birthday. Dr. King was born exactly one year before my dad, in 1929.

Each influenced me at different times and in different ways in my life. My father, of course, on a daily basis and in a personal way. Dr. King impacted me mostly in retrospect after his death, learning about and revering the life he led and the contribution he made to bettering our world.

My father instilled many qualities in me that make me who I am in the world today. He was extremely generous and was quick to help people. Sometimes he was taken advantage of and his generosity was abused. (I tend to have followed in those footsteps). My father never stopped helping and giving. Even after being burned, his generous and loving heart kept helping people when they needed it. I hope that I got that part of his nature as well.

My dad had a fantastically amusing sense of humor. He did funny little things that kept everyone around him laughing all the time. I wish I would have inherited more of that trait. I tend to be terminally serious and the only time I'm funny is when it is by total accident. I'm usually the last one to know that what I did or said was humorous!

I pause on this day to give thanks for the fact that my father walked among us on this planet. He blessed my life and was a springboard for me to pursue my dreams and aspirations.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. transformed our world. He studied the works of Mahatma Gandhi on non-violent, non-cooperation with evil and injustice and led a revolution for civil rights.

Gandhi and Dr. King are two of my all time heroes. They lived the principles for dealing with injustice that I most admire.

So, today - the day of his birth - as well as on the upcoming holiday, we celebrate the life of Dr. King - who sacrificed so much to lead a revolution that has impacted us all.

From the King Center website, here are two wonderful quotes from Dr. King:

"One of the greatest liabilities of history, is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. But today our very survival depends upon our ability
to stay awake,
to adjust to new ideas,
to remain vigilant
and face the challenge of change."

"Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. Say that I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things in life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that's all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he is traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain."
~ Excerpted from "The Drum Major Instinct", a sermon by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968.

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