Recently, I was asked to do something for Martin Luther king day. Something culturally enlightening to educate myself. I ended up just slacking the day away like many of my other peers had done. It wasn’t until after that I realized that I was being challenged to take a sympathetic look at the world around me and take an assessment. Was there something in the world that I wasn’t happy with? Could I make a statement or even a change through my artistry? Maybe I could have, but it was a missed opportunity nonetheless.
So there I was, thinking about the holiday. Granted, I was a day late (literally) and a dollar short (also literally- they don’t call us starving artists for nothing) but I figured a little analysis was better than nothing. I started with the basics: why should I care about Dr. King? Who was he to me? Well those parts were easy enough to figure out. Then came the interesting thought- I personally owe a lot to the work of this man. Many people do. Not just black people but Hispanics and people of different Anglo countries as well. In Boston and New York there can be a good amount of racism found for Italians and Irish as well. But how do many people spend the holiday? Certainly not reflecting or being thankful for the sacrifices of a certain man and his dream. We sleep in, get work done, or slack off. Hardly an action fitting for such a day. So I got to thinking a little more broadly. Isn’t this the same way we view other holidays? People look forward to other long weekends like labor day and veterans day but they also can’t wait to sleep Christmas days away too.
Sadly, I fall in the same boat. Being busy is still not an excuse to slack as a human being. So what’s my issue? What’s everyone else got going on that they can’t take a moment to reflect on things?
Here it is: complacency
I’ll admit it- I have things pretty good in my life. As much as middle class people in the United States may complain, they do to. When things go well in our lives it’s easy to stay selfish and focus on number 1. Its way too easy to forget that the things people fought against less than a century ago haven’t gone away. There is still racism today, there are still wars where people die, and for those of us that heart church- there’s still a loving god waiting for us at the end of the road. The trouble is making the connection to it. If bad things don’t happen to you, then in your world, those things don’t exist. The only problem with that way of thinking was WWI and WWII. The United States sat around letting all of our neighbors get beat up and expected to come out un-bothered. It’s interesting to see how fired up people get when a naval yard is bombed or a plane hits their office workplace.
So I guess the challenge for me now is to find a way to battle this complacency by making a connection to what’s happening around me. Although, now that I think about it, I think I’d rather make a statement about complacency because that’s something I have a pretty good connection to. Either way- its this type of thinking that changes the world around us. That’s what I was supposed to realize.