I took a walk with our dog Amber this morning.
After a week of dreary weather the clear blue sky filled with the sun’s warmth was a welcome companion on our walk.
Amber, who turns 13 years old in a few days, had a little extra skip in her step because of the weather and was in no hurry to return home.
We took our time walking to the lake and around our neighborhood.
I was happy watching her sniff and collect valuable data from the tracks and pee and poop left in the snow by the critters who had wandered the path before us during the night and early morning hours.
But I found myself pondering some things, too.
Before we left on our walk, I was watching a TV show while bundling up for the 20-degree temps outside that persisted in spite of the sun.
I was lacing up my snow boots when, in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday today, the show played part of an interview with Dr. King from decades ago.
What he was saying and how he was saying it made me stop what I was doing, sit still, and listen, even though Amber was making it clear she was ready to go for a walk.
Dr. King’s words were so pure they seemed to come directly from the heart of spirit, where truth and beauty live, and were communicated without being exposed to or distorted by any limiting or judgmental human beliefs.
And they were spoken with a passion and grace that so few in history have possessed.
Literally, my breath was taken away and tears streamed down my face as I listened to him speak.
Every fiber of my being has missed and longed for words like his and for the spirits who so courageously speak them.
I suddenly became aware that subconsciously I am constantly searching for this kind of substance, depth, power, and truth in the world yet seldom find it.
Our world is filled with mediocrity, and with many false prophets who are out to further their interests and fortunes at the expense of others, willing to lie, obstruct, and deceive to accomplish their self-serving and self-preserving agendas.
To be honest, watching these people and the pain and suffering they’re inflicting day in and day out has affected me—to what extent I’m not sure of.
But I do know that I have been struggling.
I know many of you have been struggling, too.
When we are starved of substance and light, literally and figuratively, we often forget that they exist and end up settling for emptiness and darkness.
When this happens, we can fall into a state of despair, believing that they are gone forever.
Only when we once again feel their nourishment and embracing warmth do we realize how terminal the darkness felt.
It is a dark time in our country.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had many moments when I’ve felt that goodness and light might not stand a chance of surviving let alone flourishing.
But today, not just because of the beautiful sunny weather but also because it’s a day that we take time to remember and honor Martin Luther King, Jr., I’m reminded of the power of light, and character and substance … and for standing up for what’s right and the possibilities that exist when we do.
Listening to Dr. King speak this morning, reminded me of the privilege I’ve had because of the color of my skin.
I’m a second-generation American.
Both my maternal and paternal grandparents immigrated from Europe to this country in pursuit of better lives.
Because of the fairness of my skin, I am considered to be “white.”
I am truly fortunate to have no idea what it feels like to be judged and treated differently because of the color of my skin; and I am privileged to not have to face discrimination due to my skin color on a daily basis.
I know this.
With that said, I do have people (white people), many of whom are complete strangers, make assumptions about who I am and what I believe based on the color of my skin.
Many feel safe to openly and unapologetically express their racism to me, believing that I share their views simply because we have the same skin color.
I can’t count the number of times these people have used racist names and made derogatory comments when they’re talking to me about people of color, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and former president Barack Obama.
Each time this has happened, I’ve been stunned not only that so many people still have such racist views but also that they believe that simply because I share the same skin color with them that I share their beliefs.
I’ve confronted some of these people, but I’m ashamed to say there have been other times I’ve remained silent.
I’m not proud of this.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
For me, I know the times I’ve stayed silent when something “mattered” have chipped away at my spirit.
Conversely, the times when I’ve spoken up, I am proud of and have never once regretted.
Even though I’ve been scared the times I’ve done this, I remember feeling a deep internal peace assuring me that I was, without a doubt, doing the right thing.
Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have a great track record for “doing the right thing.”
The times when groups that have been discriminated against or marginalized gained rights, it’s because they, and many others, have fought long and hard for those rights.
While we’ve come a long way as a country, we still have a great distance to go.
This is evident in our politics and in our lives.
In “Standing Up for Spirit,” which is Chapter 34 in my book THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I talk about how important it is for us to individually and collectively stand up for spirit—in other words, for what’s right.
I start this chapter with the following quote from Dr. King: And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it’s right.
Today, as we are reminded of the sacrifices Dr. King made and the change that happened and continues to happen because he did, let’s begin to find the courage to stand up for what matters and for what’s right because it IS and always will be the right thing to do.
Thank you Dr. King for continuing to remind us to dream big and to fearlessly pursue that dream with every fiber of our beings!
I’ll end this post with the quote from Dr. King that I ended the “Standing Up for Spirit” chapter with: Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR is a completely new and revolutionary philosophy — based on the simplicity, intelligence, and wisdom of nature — that provides us the tools to tap into the limitless potential of the human spirit.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR helps you identify, understand, and remove the eleven most-common obstructions to spirit.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.