Monday, January 21, 2013

Good Will On A Historic Day Of Service

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (a.k.a. MLK Day) in the United States has become as unique as it is universal. Signed into law 30 years ago, this national holiday marks the birthday of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and has become known as a National Day Of Service where Americans are encouraged to make it "A Day On, Not A Day Off." The concept is as inspired and enigmatic as the man.

"If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness." — Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Enigmatic is the right word as the concept was inspired by a 2,000-year-old message of empowerment without constraint. King was able to beautifully interpret it as a modern call to action in one of the many powerful speeches he delivered during his lifetime. Simply put, adopting a new definition of greatness tied to service could make everyone great regardless of education, social standing, or economic prowess.

Instead, greatness is earned by all those who ever tried to love somebody. It is earned by doing something to feed the hungry. It is earned by offering clothes to those who are naked. It is earned by taking the time to feel empathy for others and serve humanity. It is earned through service, which is potentially more lasting than any other measure in the world. And King personified the concept of it.

Although assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, many of King's ideas, words, and actions have led to the foundation of national efforts like the Corporation For National and Community Service and international efforts like Points Of Light. Both organizations have been instrumental in mobilizing volunteers into service on MLK Day

Last year, Points of Light trained and activated 4,000 volunteer leaders to support more than 2,700 projects across the nation while engaging 7,900 veterans and military families. But beyond its efforts in the United States, it also works with the HandsOn Network, which has grown to create 70 affiliates with 12 locations overseas. The vision of both organizations is to make it easier for people to identify community need and take action that provides pragmatic solutions through service.

It doesn't matter who you are or what your interests might be. Volunteers take up a diverse number of
 challenges to transform  King's teachings into community action, with most tied to efforts that provide lasting change in the community. Such projects frequently advance economic development, promote education, and prepare for or recover from natural disasters. And for many of these volunteers, the efforts they put forth on this day become the catalyst to create a legacy of lifelong service.

A bit more about the man who inspired service.
Martin Luther King Day

After Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white passenger in 1955, Martin Luther King, Jr. was thrust into the national spotlight for helping to lead the Montgomery bus boycott. The boycott, which became symbolic of racial segregation and the civil rights movement, gave injustices related to voting, segregation, and labor rights national prominence.

In 1964, King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Shortly after, as s King gained an increasingly large and sympathetic audience, he expanded his speeches to include messages of peace, education, service, and economic justice.

While some of his socio-economic beliefs beyond racial equality can be debated, his legacy also epitomized the virtue of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility, and service — values that still empower people toward volunteerism and community service within their neighborhoods and communities today.

A National Day Of Service Is A Liquid [Hip] Good Will Pick. 

At least once a month, Liquid Hip highlights good will efforts undertaken by people with big hearts. We don't score them. That belongs to you.

We chose organizations like Corporation For National and Community Service and Points Of Light for their continued efforts to preserve, inspire, and empower volunteers to take action on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The organizations are not only charged with taking action, but also inspiring others toward service and greatness — maybe even you for your neighborhood or community, anywhere in the world.

There are dozens of ways to become involved in programs designed to enrich local communities, including those that aim to end hunger, aid disaster victims, mentor children, and participate in neighborhood improvement projects through the Corporation For National & Community Service or in conjunction with Points Of Light and its initiatives like the HandsOn Network and GenerationOn. For more volunteer ideas, visit VolunteerMatch or the Global Volunteer Network. Even the smallest commitments represent another step toward finding greatness and making the world a better place.
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