Today, everyone will talk and espouse about community service and peace toward mankind, for this is a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. Community service and peace were two of the main facets that made Dr. Martin Luther King one of the most revered Americans ever during a time where our nation went through a period of evolution that challenged our societal attitudes and way of life.
But as I think about this day, I can’t help but to ask this yearly question to myself…
…have we really learned anything from the words and actions of King, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, and others?
My answer is a resounding “no”. We say we want to adhere to those principles of civility and peace, but we feel the need to say, act, or behave in ways that we know is wrong, but we do it anyway.
Remember last January and the Tucson, Arizona shootings? Everyone was quick to say that the shooting was triggered by the political rhetoric. It wasn’t. Jared Loughner had a history of being an unstable individual due to mental illness, and Loughner acted out randomly as he fired upon a crowd, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. It was never directly due to political rhetoric.
We ignored the real problem: the state of mental health in this country.
After that tragedy, we “pledged” to be kinder and gentler when it came to poltiical discourse.
That was short-lived. Our attention span is so short, we can’t even recall who was in the 2011 Final Four besides Butler and UConn. We’re back to the same old thing, because we “chose” to continue this silliness ourselves. It’s not just the Republicans’ or the Democrats’ fault.
It’s ours. We encourage the unruly behavior as a way to satisfy ourselves and what we want. And I doubt if we’re really going to make an effort in being civil in every day life.
Many of you are not fans of ESPN Radio‘s Colin Cowherd. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m one of a few that like him, regardless if I agree with his opinions or not. I bring him up because of a video clip after the jump that I’ve adopted in 2011 as a mantra for myself. The clip is worth listening as he asks “Why are we always looking to strike back (or seek revenge) when someone says or do something wrong towards us?”
If we really care about being civil, then I wouldn’t be writing this, or Character Counts In Iowa wouldn’t be on the forefront of fostering civil discourse and behavior in this world.
Also on this day, everyone will be participating in a “day of service” across the nation. I’m for community service and individuals who are dedicated in helping their communities in the spirit of charity and service.
But what I have a hard accepting is the notion that we should set aside this national holiday as a “national” day of service. “Everyday” is a national day of service. Police, fire, and EMT personnel don’t take 364 (365 as 2012 is a leap year) days off, so they could put all of their efforts into doing a “day of service” on this day.
They are on call every second, minute, hour, and day to provide service to those in need.
There are people who need help everyday, not just on the Dr. King holiday. From the homeless to those battling cystic fibrosis. From battered women and children to military veterans battling Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder.
For those who think they feel they have done something good by doing “a day of service” on this holiday, I want to challenge you to do more than just one day of service.
In fact, I want you to find an organization, charity, or a group, join it, and immerse yourself into community service. If you’re going to do it to “pad” your resume and look good in the community, you are better off not doing it at all. You’re wasting your time.
Please don’t just show up for one day and then go back into hiding until the next Dr. King holiday. It’s an insult to so many people who constantly provide community service worldwide.