Javascript is currently disabled. This site requires Javascript to function correctly. Please enable Javascript in your browser!

A Man for Others

Articles you might be interested in

Jan. 19, 2015

What strikes me as I reflect upon the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. is his others-centered focus. Throughout his life and especially in spearheading the fight for civil rights, he seemed to always see the person, to resist objectification and simplification of the person in the name of love.

King’s focus on others was a theme throughout his life. It must have come into play when his classmates voted him president of the student body, and during his service as a Baptist minister, in which he dedicated himself to the spiritual welfare of his congregation. [L1] It must have been solidarity with his fellow man which compelled him to fight for civil rights, even when that fight led him to jail.

His talent for oration drew people, perhaps because his words resonated in the hearts of others. The messages of so many of his speeches were “I am with you. I am for you.” He fed the hearts of the people who listened to him— morally and spiritually. In asking people to see beyond the divisions of the day, he inspired them. As one Yale student living during the time of King remarked: “that man makes me proud to be a human being”. [L2] 

King saw the world through the eyes of love— not taking people for granted. He understood people could be narrow-minded, hateful, and even hurtful, but he knew that this aspect of humanity did not have the final say. In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, King said:

I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. [L3]  

I love this quote, because it speaks for King’s belief in the person as inherently good. Spoken at a time where other nations of the world were also facing internal struggles, King’s words were like an embrace or a friendly conversation, bringing comfort and an expectation that humanity’s goodness would ultimately triumph.

This Martin Luther King Day, I want to do something for others in the spirit of King’s focus on the person in his life-work. It may be something small, like making dinner for my family or calling a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. However, this will help put into motion the habit of meeting people with love each day. Through actions like these, I will begin to actually see others—what moves them, what brings them joy, their hearts. I think that’s how I can best honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr. - by drawing the people around me closer and putting love into action.