“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – MLK
Right now, you are probably still enjoying the comfort of your bed…
Flipping the channels; checking the breaking news or searching for a good movie,
Surfing the Internet on your tablet or cell phone, in order to catch up with family, friends and the world.
I, too, will be doing these things. But I will also be doing what I have been doing for at least the past 15 years, serving my community.
In honor of the great civil rights activist, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., today has been designated to commemorate all that he stood for and all the things that he was able to accomplish. He was definitely the forerunner and trailblazer to many pivotal changes in humanity. So it is only befitting that today is not entirely seen as a day off, but rather, a day for serving and being alert to the needs of our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and communities.
How do we serve?
There are many ways to serve. You might choose the route that I have often engaged in and join many volunteers a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service and locate a local service project. Because these projects are pre-planned, it might be challenging to sign up for one today. I encourage you to still research them and consider connecting with them for future opportunities.
- You may stop by a local community or faith-based organization that might be feeding the homeless, visiting seniors or facilitating recreational activities for youth because schools are closed today.
- You might consider creating your own simple project at the last minute and do a good deed for someone in your neighborhood. I’m sure you have something in your home that you are no longer using (clothes, shoes, electronics, books, etc) that you can donate to someone you know or random strangers. You don’t have to look far to find someone homeless or in need.
In case you are thinking that all of the above sounds good, but you would rather continue enjoying your day in bed, in your pajamas there is still an option for you!
- You can be an advocate.
“Advocate – one who pleads another’s cause or in support of something; to speak or write in support of” -Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus
You can be an advocate from your bed, using the tools you already have.
What cause are you passionate about? What status or article have you read today since you have been on social media that really got your attention? Do you have a family member, friend, neighbor or church member who is dealing with an illness, an unpleasant situation or crisis?
These are great places to start advocating.
It doesn’t mean that you have to start advocating for them everyday (unless you want to). But you could do something today, even if it is a one time deed, that will make a difference and encourage others to do the same. It doesn’t have to take much effort or work on your part. You can make it as simple as you want.
You are always updating your social media statuses. Why not write an inspirational thought in support of your cause. Or if it is a cause that you are not as familiar with, you could advocate by educating yourself about it. Take 10 minutes to research the Internet so that you might be able to better help your loved one.
I have taken this approach many times before. For example, I kept hearing many testimonies, reading articles and watching commercials on how cancer was affecting so many people. I became curious about the origin of the disease so I started doing my own research. My findings were very enlightening. I didn’t realize that there were so many different forms of cancer. My studies allowed me to better understand or be able to support someone suffering from a specific type of cancer.
I hope that you have been motivated to serve today in some capacity; especially through advocacy. If you have already been serving in your community, kudos to you! This day is to continue that service and evoke others to serve too. But even more so, it is to remind us about the underlining message that King left for us. I phrase it this way: Serving is not a matter of scratching a task off of our good deed list, but it is about appreciating and respecting one another’s life and having the compassion to be compelled to act in love.
Whether or not you are a lifetime mental health advocate as myself or you already have a great cause that matter to you, remember that many are oppressed. You can be rich in money and still be oppressed in your mind. You can be a highly educated person and still be oppressed physically. You can be a well known person and be oppressed socially. We are advocates because the oppressed need to be freed.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” -MLK