Friday, January 14, 2011

"'What are you doing for others?'" -MLK, Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we pay tribute to the life and leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend, the recent shooting in Arizona is undoubtedly also on our minds. Sadly, this tragedy is a reminder that while our country has certainly progressed in many ways since MLK Jr.'s era, we are still far from the nation of nonviolent equality that this hero envisioned.

In addition to calling for nonviolent resistance and ending segregation, Martin Luther King, Jr. also fought strongly for economic equality. As he said: "The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."

I think it's fitting that National Mentoring Month coincides with the date when we celebrate MLK Jr's life and leadership. Mentoring relationships often break down barriers of culture, generation and socioeconomic status while challenging assumptions and stereotypes. Through building intentional relationships, both mentors and mentees have an opportunity to build a new understanding of those from of different backgrounds, life experience, and/or takes on the world.

As we enjoy the long weekend, I hope we also take the time to reflect upon these words spoken by MLK Jr, taking them as a lifelong challenge: Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

If the answer to this question leads you to want to explore tutoring or mentoring programs: find a program in Chicago, in another city, learn more about tutor/mentor programs and how they could use your help (no matter what your skills) through Tutor/Mentor Institute, or contact me so I can help you find what you need!

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