Emulate King with action, not just words

The great Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered for many things during celebrations to honor him Monday — activism, humanitarianism, non-violent civil disobedience, his Christian faith — but it is his call to service that we hope will be the mantra of residents of all races as we join together to make the world a better place for all.

Dr. King believed in a non-violent world where people were judged “by the content of their character,” and he saw that character rising from a desire to reach a helping hand out to someone else.

In one of his many famous speeches, Dr. King was quoted as saying, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

As we prepare to honor Dr. King, let us all ask ourselves that question and, more importantly, if we cannot answer it with an affirmation of action, then let’s make the commitment to find a way to do so, celebrating a great man by modeling our lives after his own.

Today perhaps more than ever before it is that call to action that can bring us back together as a country, reminding us of the responsibility we should all take in caring for one another, providing that hand up.

In the last decade, many of our presidents have performed acts of service on the King holiday, choosing to work in soup kitchens or homeless shelters as a way of paying tribute to a man who had great vision and who believed in reaching out to people of all races and helping them in whatever way he could.

Part of that vision allowed him to see a world where people were willing to help one another, looking beyond color, social status and position to a person’s heart. It’s a powerful message that takes few, if any words, but rather action laced with genuine love for one’s fellow man.

Rather than kneeling during our National Anthem to draw attention to a cause, commit yourself to working in churches, schools and community organizations, showing why the lives of people of every race matter. Helping someone no matter their color does a whole lot more for a cause than taking a knee, infuriating many and actually doing more harm than good.

Service speaks far louder than knee-jerk reactions and hurtful words ever could. King understood that and set an example of service.

That’s what we are calling for today — actions that speak far louder than words and kindness that draws people together far faster than violence ever will. We live in tumultuous times where the actions of a few have caused a rip in the relationships we have worked so diligently to build between men and women of all races and religions.

We should not allow the bad apples among us to stir old prejudices and feed hatred. If we work, hand-in-hand, side-by-side, helping others, providing service to those who are less fortunate, we can restore the camaraderie and be reminded that love should bring us together.

Dr. King understood that, and he believed in it despite the tumultuous times in which he lived. He believed that God intended for people to love one another — no matter their religion, their color or their perceived importance — and to respect one another.

So do we.

You see, from where we sit a call to service is a call to action, a peaceful way of man helping man, brother reaching out to brother, sister to sister.

Right here in Sampson County, we have myriad ways to serve, with doors opened wide for all races to join in lending a helping hand to others, improving the quality of life for all those in Sampson.

And that’s where it starts, really, in our hometowns and in our own hearts. And from there it spreads.

While there’s no question race issues still exist decades after King’s death, and in some ways have grown rather than retreated. Today, we have to be honest enough with ourselves to figure out why and then re-commit ourselves to striving to look at one another through colorless glasses. And then we have to do our part to end the injustices that still exist and work together to make the world a better place.

That starts by helping others, and allowing others to help you.

Too often people let others shatter their desire to help others. Dr. King did not. We shouldn’t either, not now, not ever.