Sometimes you work, and you don’t see the benefits. Sometimes you toil away, and the hoped-for goals continue to elude you. And, sometimes, the impact you have happens after you’ve gone.
I think the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., is one such example. When he was alive, social justice was elusive. Gains were hard-fought. Violence was rampant. He himself received many death threats and knew he might be killed. But, yet, he forged on.
Today, he continues to be an example, and he reminds us that social justice is still a work-in-progress.
For example, Paul Lorem is a refugee from Sudan. He recently spoke at The Roxbury Latin School to commemorate MLK Day. His parents died young and he spent most of his life in a refugee camp:
We ate one meal a day which consisted of yellow corn grains and a few white beans…. My hunger would ebb and flow and when it came to me, I felt it everywhere. I felt it in my stomach, chest, arms, and thighs. I blacked out a dozen times a day.
Currently, miraculously, this person is a student at Yale. Why him? Why did he survive and his family did not? Why was he able to come to America and his friends could not?
Today, we live in the richest nation in the history of the world. We face many issues, but many of them are “first world” ones. Others in the globe are not so lucky. As Paul said in his address:
Finally, as you commemorate the universally esteemed legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the enviable progress that your country has made in social justice and civil rights, I hope, in addition to thinking about ways to serve others on this day, you’ll spare some time to remember that social justice and civil rights are still wildest dreams for so many people in several regions across the world (and indeed spectacularly so in my country of birth), as epitomized by the ongoing genocide in Darfur, the crisis in the Middle East, and particularly the increasingly dire situation in Syria.
MLK continues to inspire social justice. His life’s work bears fruit today.
Thank you, MLK. Thank you.