April 2, 2012

The Courage of Dr. King

"If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King was an inspirational leader of the civil rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's. He was perhaps best known for his powerful speeches, and his commitment to nonviolent means to bring about social change. The power of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream was that behind his dream, he had great hope. A dream often can seem so far off, so unbelievable, that we fail to act. If it is just a fantasy, why work hard at it? Without hope, despair, but with hope, courage. With a great, burning desire and overwhelming hope, your dream seems possible. It is a real possibility, not just a whimsy or a fantasy. It is the hope that builds consistent, courageous action. That hope is what Dr. King gave us, to build up our courage to do the right thing. To respect each other. When disagreements occur, resolve them with nonviolence.

To build up your hope, listen to some of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speeches. Learn about his life, and his struggles. Ask yourself, what gave King such courage? What gave him hope? Certainly, the conditions in the deep south during his life were unjust and highly segregated. Separate seating, separate facilities, separate treatment. In spite of this, something remarkable happened. The courage, strength, and hope of good people responded to King's calls for change. Nonviolence worked. Hope kept him going to the very end, which for him tragically ended in an assassination in 1968 at the hands of James Earl Ray. Yet his dream, his hope still inspires us today, almost a half century later.

Build hope through an optimistic outlook. In the movie Dumb and Dumber, Mary and Lloyd were speaking. Lloyd asks Mary what his chances are with her. Mary responds not good, perhaps one in a million. In response to Mary's one in a million odds, Lloyd replies, "so you're telling me there's a chance. Yeah!" Lloyd has an optimism outlook. He just doesn't seem to understand that he can't do something. What makes the movie endearing is the purity of the characters. Lloyd and Harry constantly have hope. They are too "dumb" to understand the long odds of their success. Yet, somehow they accomplish their objectives nonetheless, and they are happy.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream, powered by unshakable hope, changed the world. You can change your world, and that of everyone you touch, by having a great hope that fuels your dreams.

Regularly practice these courage strengthening behaviors:

1. Listen to inspirational music

2. Speak up in a firm yet kind and humble manner

3. Be hopeful

RESOURCE: Martin Luther King, Jr. A call to action: the landmark speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eBook, B000Q9IN8G.