Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The King and I

I have spent the last few weeks of my life planning out my entire year.  Looking at my life through a critical lens and recognizing character flaws, I have sought out change. Planners, pens, lists, schedules, and inspirational quotes have all been used to form my 2011 strategy. Look out world. Change is on the way.
Unlike those who no longer believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I look forward to them again and again. Some goals have been reached, others discarded, and still others altered. Yet the excitement of dreaming and planning is one I cannot shake. I get a thrill out of reviewing the plans I made throughout the year and seeing real progress being accomplished.  I spend weeks in the first month of every year determining what my vision is, what needs to change, what must be thrown off, and what ought to be pursued.
Many people today no longer believe in New Year’s Resolutions, as though it were the Tooth Fairy, or some myth dependent on the power of the human will. And there is some truth to that, I suppose. After all, if my hope for the entire year rests in what I can do, then I am putting all my eggs in one very undependable basket. I do not believe in the human ability to conquer anything on one’s own. We most certainly need grace and help. But resolve is something I can’t cut down to being a false hope. Resolve is profound. Vision is vital. Hope is exhilarating. Resolution is essential. 
This week, I was shaken by the sight and sound of one man’s resolve. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, was a prophetic, inspiring man of resolution. He found hope in the midst of darkness, and gave that hope like a torch to an entire people, to a nation. Listening to the recording of his “I Have a Dream” speech, or the reverberating “Mountaintop” speech is like being in the presence of something great, something in motion, something bigger than oneself. A man very worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize, he united a fragile nation with his thunderous, unstoppable rhetoric, and his remarkable perseverance born out of a revolutionary vision. Remembering Dr. King is remembering a man on mission, a man on fire. 
Dr. King’s life has been spent. Like the rest of us, he was mortal, and his time was finite. Yet he counted what he had and spent it well. What he accomplished proves that life is not something to be clung to, but to be used up on something worthy. And so, amid a list of small ambitions, Dr. King’s life asks these provoking questions: Because it is inevitable that you are spending your life, what are you spending it on? What mission is worth the value of your life? What vision will brighten the lives of others? 
I hope that as we look back on another birthday of Dr. King, we have left it changed, humbled, inspired, and more dedicated to freedom and justice than ever before. As we make our way into another year, I hope that we make it count. Indeed, may we count what we have and spend it well. 

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