While yesterday was Dr. King's actual birthday, today is the day in the United States where we recognize a man who had, at the time, an impossible dream. That one day, everyone regardless of the color of their skin, religion, wealth, or social status would be treated with respect and treated and dignity.
While it seems like there's always some injustice or discrimination happening in the world, it's amazing the progress that has happened in what truly is a short time. A man, who was younger than either of us when he was cut down by an assassin who was terrified of his words, had done so much to change the course of a nation and the world at large.
I can't say I've never been without prejudice, I believe that it's human nature for people to fear what they don't understand. It seems that people tend to find comfort in pushing others down to make themselves feel better. I believe there are few people, if any, who can say that they do not have anger in their heart for someone or something. It's an important part of the growth of a human to recognize these tendencies, understand them, and then eliminate them.
Anger is a funny thing, some consider it to be a secondary emotion, one that is rooted in a deeper issue. Sometimes it's fear of something one does not understand or fully comprehend, it could be based on frustration of ones place in life, or it can be because of an environmental condition. It is a difficult thing to process, and I'm by no means an expert in this area, it's something I've struggled with in general. Something happens that one did not anticipate or changed the way one perceived the world and one's knee jerk reaction might be to become angry about that change or development. I feel this is a flaw in humans in general, but it's at this point you have a choice. You can be angry and curse the darkness or turn on the light and seek to understand. This is something I've been working on for quite a while, to have a more "zen" outlook on life in general. It's certainly not easy and I definitely don't do it all the time but I can say it's had a positive change on my outlook in general. It's amazing the clarity one can obtain when you remove the anger.
I find that when working on a project of any sort, and something doesn't go as planned or I make a mistake my brain wants to turn to anger... I don't always win in that split-second decision-point but I've become better and better at learning how to deal with it. It reminds me of one of my most favorite movie/tv show quotes of all time, in Lost where Jack is telling Kate how he dealt with fear during an operation:
"Well, fear's sort of an odd thing. When I was in residency my first solo procedure was a spinal surgery on a sixteen year old kid, a girl. And at the end, after thirteen hours, I was closing her up and I, I accidentally ripped her dural sac, shredded the base of the spine where all the nerves come together, membrane as thin as tissue. And so it ripped open and the nerves just spilled out of her like angel hair pasta, spinal fluid flowing out of her and I... and the terror was just so crazy. So real. And I knew I had to deal with it. So I just made a choice. I'd let the fear in, let it take over, let it do its thing, but only for five seconds, that's all I was going to give it. So I started to count: one, two, three, four, five. Then it was gone. I went back to work, sewed her up and she was fine."
It's funny how a quote in a TV show could have such an impact but I have to say it's something I've always tried to do, and it works amazingly well.
Back to Dr. King. When I look at his accomplishments it just amazes me, especially when you consider the constant challenges he was faced with. It wasn't enough that half, if not more, of the country was against him. He was repeatedly targeted for assassination, from his house being bombed to a stabbing in Harlem (albeit by a mentally ill person), multiple arrests and the list goes on... At any one of those points he could have said, "You know what, this is just too much, I'm out" and who would blame him? But thankfully he persevered and gave us an amazing gift. And lets remember that we're all one race, the human race, and we're all in this together. Instead of pushing others down, let's lift them up. One other great quote from Lost that I loved was "Live together, die alone" (seriously, what's with the Lost quotes Bill?) Finally, lets remember that we're all one race, the human race, and we're all in this together. Instead of pushing others down, let's lift them up.
Thank you Dr. King, and hopefully one day the whole world can share in your dream.