While the pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life, reflection on the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King’s work illuminates the hope and love that connect us all. As a visionary, he believed the civil rights movement would create a society in which character, rather than color, would prevail. Eloquently stated from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 I Have a Dream speech, Dr. Martin Luther King called for collective action and kindness from all Americans.
There is much in the world that is out of our control, and people often think they are too insignificant to make a change; and when resources are stretched thin, it can feel as though, “I have nothing to give.”
However, when looking back on our own lives, isn’t it the smallest gestures from just one person that seem to imprint themselves on our memory, especially the people who performed an act of kindness when we least expected it or when we needed it the most?
Small ways we can all act to help people and our community:
- Volunteer your time—an hour
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou
- Practice kindness—just smile
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa
- Practice compassion—do not speak, just listen
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
- Donate money—even $1
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree long ago.” – Warren Buffett
- Be grateful—say thanks
“If the opposite of scarcity is enough, then practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough.” – Brené Brown
The decision to act, big or small, sends a message of hope. Your choice to shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk or give a note of appreciation to a coworker, says you believe the people who make up your community are worthy of kindness, compassion, and human dignity.
During these uncertain times where feelings of fear and division have become commonplace, and hope is something we must work to find, imagine what our world could look like if we took inspiration from Dr. King and acted together, from a place of kindness. Would we feel so insignificant and frustrated with the state of the world? Or, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
- Listen to a Message of Hope, YW’s Spotify playlist celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
- Join us this Wednesday, January 19 for an Equity & Justice Conversation about Holistic Well-Being.
For more YWCA St. Paul equity and justice resources:
- Watch our archive of Equity & Justice Conversations
- Visit our Learning Library of resources