Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

One of the t-shirts on my t-shirt quilt from high school is from RAK’s first MLK Day On. It features one of my favorite MLK quotes.

As I’m sure you know, this past Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This American federal holiday is held on the third Monday of January each year to mark King’s birthday, January 15.

The National Martin Luther King Day of Service was started by two former government officials, a Pennsylvania Senator and an Atlanta Congressman, who co-authored the King Holiday and Service Act. This federal legislation challenges Americans to transform this holiday into a day of service in honor of Dr. King. Many schools, organizations, and companies observe the holiday as a day of service.

When I was in high school, I was a part of a club called RAK, which stands for Random Acts of Kindness and Rachel’s Ambassador Klub. This club is dedicated, to put it simply, to making the world a better place. What RAK does at meetings and events can be summed up into one word: service. We volunteer, we do service projects, we help out in any way possible.

My high school observes MLK Day and doesn’t hold classes on the day each year. A couple of years ago, RAK started using that day off as a "day on” for service. We set up volunteer opportunities around the metro. We made signs with kind and encouraging words for every locker in the school. We made cards for service men and women and sick children. We did everything we could on that day to honor Dr. King’s legacy of love and kindness.

Sometimes it may seem hard. It’s hard to be kind when you’re having a bad day. It’s hard to say something nice to someone with whom you don’t get along well. But I believe that kindness and service simply make life better. When you are kind, you feel lighter, happier. And being kind isn’t some extravagant thing. Kindness can be shown in the simplest of ways.

Pay someone a compliment. Pay for the coffee order of the person behind you in line. Don’t think negative thoughts about someone. Say hello. Write someone a kind letter. Hold the door open for someone. Let someone have your seat on the bus. Smile at a stranger.

The amazing thing about kindness, even the smallest, simplest act, is that it can start a chain reaction. And isn’t that the whole point? You do something kind for someone, and they pass it on, and it continues on and on and on. And that’s how you change the world: one small random act of kindness at a time.

I’ll finish this post the same way one of my favorite people finishes her talk show every day: Be kind to one another.

Lots of love,

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963 sermon titled, “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life"