Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked hard to bring greater equality to America and to ensure civil rights for all people, regardless of race. The birthday of this great American leader is marked on the third Monday of every January. And in his honor, we strive to make it a day of service, not a holiday.
Do you realize that many of the values held by Dr. King are principles we seek to embody in recovery from substance use and mental health disorders? In recovery, we come to value honesty, equality, justice, peace, and service to others.
Dr. King once wrote a speech called “the Drum Major Instinct”. Although he talked about how he wanted to be remembered after his death, that speech provides perfect guidelines for what we all should strive to accomplish in life. He said:
“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say…I’d like somebody to mention that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”
Excerpt from the MLK Speech: “The Drum Major Instinct”
So, as we honor Dr. King’s legacy on January 18th – the 26th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service – let’s challenge ourselves to give some hours of that day to serving others. Let’s love somebody, feed and clothe somebody, or visit somebody in jail or prison. Vow, on this one special day at least, to love and serve humanity.