Dr. King has been a source of inspiration for me, since I was a child. It was Dr. King (by way of my elementary school teachers) who first introduced me to the idea of dreaming and standing steadfast in a dream.
To honor Dr. King, on the day that has been set aside to celebrate his birthday, I would like to share three lessons I’ve learned from his life.
Lesson #1: Personal Immortality
Dr. King believed at a young age that as human beings we can achieve personal immortality. This doesn’t mean that you can cheat death…we all will die! What it means is that as human beings we all have the potential to live our lives in such a way, that our legacy becomes immortal. Our beliefs, dreams, words, writings, and lives can leave a lasting impact on future generations for thousands of years. He achieved this…will you and I?
Lesson #2: Shadow Casting
Dr. King hadn’t always been the man we all know and respect. In his writings, he admits to letting hate creep into his heart as an adolescent and later as a young adult he admitted to a short stretch of skepticism about his faith.
Dr. King became the man we love and know with help and influence from many other great people.
In college, Dr. King read Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. He was so moved by Thoreau’s deep beliefs and writings, that he read Civil Disobedience multiple times that year. Thoreau’s life and his book were both catalyst that began to mold King’s life work.
- What if Thoreau had never gone to prison for what he believed?
- What if he had never written this book?
- What if King’s college professor had not assigned it?
In seminary school, Dr. King had the opportunity to hear Dr. Mordecai Johnson, President of Howard University speak in Philadelphia. Dr. Johnson had just returned home from India and it was there that Dr. King was introduced to the teaching and beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi.
- What if Dr. Johnson had chosen a different topic?
- What if Dr. King had been to tired or busy to go?
- What if Mahatma Gandhi hadn’t achieved personal immortality?
“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We can celebrate Dr. King today, because of the shadows those before him cast.
What shadows are you casting?
Lesson #3: Somebodiness
Dr. King often talks about the important role his parents played in his upbringing. One of the lessons his parents taught him, that he refers to often is the lesson he calls ‘somebodiness’. ‘Somebodiness’ is a state of self dignity and worthiness, despite what others may think. It is a deep inner resolve that nobody can convince me that I am not somebody.
In 1967, Dr. King spoke in Cleveland and provided the following instruction to the audience:
“The first thing we must do is to develop within ourselves a deep sense of somebodiness. Don’t let anybody make you feel that you are nobody. Because the minute one feels that way, he is incapable of rising to his full maturity as a person.”
One of my favorite King stories and demonstrations of what ‘somebodiness’ is, is in the audio link below:
click here: MLK on Somebodiness
Are you embracing the full potential of your somebodiness?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has left so many lessons for each of us to learn. Personally, he has been a continual source of inspiration for me and because of that I celebrate his birth.
Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and thank you!