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Lessons from the Drum Major for Justice, Peace, and Righteousness

This weekend, we will celebrate the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s. Birthday. He would have been 94 years old.

The actress Julia Roberts revealed an interesting fact about Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King. On her 55th birthday, Ms. Roberts shared that Martin and Coretta paid her parents' hospital bill after she was born. It was one of the many acts of generosity and influence the Kings performed which the public only discovered much later.

Recently, I was part of a panel discussion sponsored by Unity Worldwide Headquarters on the Life of Dr. King and his “I Have a Dream Speech.” The panel focuses on the impact that King’s words continue to have 60 years later—and why they’re so valuable during times of great challenge.

During Dr. King's life and up until his assassination on April 4, 1968, I had little appreciation of the power of Dr. King’s philosophy of Non-Violence and his spiritual perspective on life. Like a few of my young and impatient friends and classmates, I thought his philosophy was impractical and foolish. Only when I began to study the life and beliefs of Dr. King did I recognize the power and impact of his presence on the planet.

Over the years, I've learned several powerful lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Lessons of truth that can help us individually and collectively fulfill our potential as spiritual and human beings.

Here are a few of them:

1. Love, even those we don't like. Dr. King once stopped an armed mob and said: “We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. I want you to love our enemies. Be good to them. This is what we live by. We must meet hate with love.”

2. Paint a vivid picture of a better tomorrow. The essence of Dr. King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech focused on creating a clear new future regardless of how the facts appear now. In that iconic speech, he speaks of new possibilities for society. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

3. Act according to your highest values. Many were tempted to resort to violence during the Civil Rights Movement to advance the cause. Some did. Like Mahatma Gandhi before him, Dr. King called upon his followers to adhere to a higher standard. He reminded his followers, "We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

4. We are all interconnected. Dr. King poignantly stated, "In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All persons are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality."

5. Be of service.During King's funeral, a tape recording was played in which King spoke of how he wanted to be remembered after his death: "I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others." In his speech, The Drum Major Instinct, Dr. King proclaimed, "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

These are just some of the lessons learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was indeed one of the great transformational leaders in contemporary history.

If you want to learn more about the Dr. Martin Luther King online event that will take place on Monday, January 16, at 1 p.m. PST, visit: An MLK Celebration.

Peace and Blessings,


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