As a graduate student in social work, I sometimes wished I had been born 10-15 years earlier so that I could have participated in the civil rights movement. It seemed so congruent with my beliefs and the ideals I was being taught as a social worker. Dignity. Self determination. Respect.
But alas, I was born in 1960 and was too young to appreciate firsthand the bold work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So, I did the next best thing. I read about him. In my late twenties, I read Let The Trumpet Sound, a biography of Dr. King. It moved me to consider how committed he was to his cause of equality and the overwhelming obstacles he faced. Yet he boldly persevered and with the help of a lot of other committed individuals, he changed the country.
Recently, I read Hellhound on His Trail, a book by Hampton Sides about the search for Martin Luther King’s killer. What struck me about this book was Dr. King’s realization that if someone wanted to kill him, then they would. He knew that what he was doing was risky and yet he didn’t have a personal security detail but instead, relied solely on the local police and federal law enforcement for protection.
He faced risks boldly in the name of change.
I have to wonder if I would be willing to take these kinds of risks for something I believed. I hope that I would. And yet, I suspect that like many others, I am easily lured into the comfort of safety instead of the boldness of risk.
Dr. King said, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance, and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
Are you bold in seeking your own excellence?