Today we honor someone in American history who saw past the struggles of our society to a day when we truly would live to our fullest potential as one human race. He knew it would take work, but he also knew it would be worth it. Starting in his local community and church, his message touched the entire nation, and still rings decades later.
We know that to bring justice, love, and friendship, we must build strong communities that foster these things. I took a look at some of Dr. King’s famous words to find inspiration when we think about creating a culture on our campuses that would fulfill his dream.
1. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
As we work on shaping the culture of our communities, we have to build them with the idea that the first function of community is support. This is more than cheering when someone succeeds; it’s dropping everything to comfort, pulling together in tough times, and not allowing our differences to cause divisions.
2. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Each member of our communities counts, and deserves the respect and love our culture promises. If one person is ignored, that is a testament to the weak nature of the ideals of the community. Each person should support and be supported.
3. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
No community can survive being divided into opposing groups. There must be one over-arching set of values that everyone agrees to first. Without this, the whole house falls into itself because of the lack of defining tenants. Only then can differences in talents and personalities be used towards the same goal.
4. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
Conflict in any community is inevitable. If there are no disagreements, then nobody is truly sharing their thoughts and feelings, which is unhealthy in itself. When conflict does arise, our culture must be strong enough in its “love first” mentality to be able to handle it. If each person knows to face a dividing situation with love and understanding, a solution can be reached.
I saved my favorite one for last. I think this one underlies all the others. Before any other action we take, we must remember to move forward with love. We cannot be propelled by hate, anger, or spite; a community built on those principles would crumble. Hatred takes effort and energy. It hurts the bearer as much, if not more, as it hurts the receiver. Love is simple and will only lead to good outcomes.
Which one inspires you the most?