How do you ritualize service on Martin Luther King Day and every day? Learn more about what Fran does and then add your own thoughts to this conversation.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” Dr. King’s framing of this question as crucial to our lives demands action. As a country, our response has been to honor him through a national holiday, the Martin Luther King Day of Service.
Days of service give participants a way to plug into existing opportunities and tackle large tasks that require many volunteers. Large projects are important and needed, but we cannot realistically sustain that level of contribution on a daily basis. Still, our hearts desire more opportunities to experience the uplifting sense of humanity we achieve on these days of service.
The wisdom of Dr. King’s comment is his recognition that the desire to help others is ongoing. Dr. King was not asking us to serve others on a particular day each January. His mission was to create a better world for all people. When we honor him each January, we fulfill a need both in society and in ourselves. On a day of service we feel connected to each other and to those we help. But we want that great feeling more than once a year; we wonder, “can we have it?”
The answer is yes. We can effect change and help others every day; small acts of kindness make big differences. Providing one pair of socks to a homeless person whose feet are cold is life changing. Giving school supplies to a student who does not have a pencil to do her homework creates a positive opportunity for success in school. Baking homemade brownies for a shelter brings nourishment and care to those who are homeless.
Everyone has something to give. We can give our money, goods, services, special talents or time. All donations are needed and valued by non-profit organizations every day of the year. Even when we feel we have nothing to give, we always have an ear to listen and a compassionate heart for someone in need. Compassion and kindness are often undervalued but they are critical to creating a better world.
When you engage in meaningful projects on a regular basis, giving becomes part of the fabric of your daily life. Opportunities to give are present in our daily lives. It is our task to open our eyes to see and embrace them with passion. This is how we put our beliefs into action. So take action to create a better world for others. You may find that the life you are most likely to transform is your own.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fran Held is the founder and executive director of MitzvahLit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed." Circle Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides meaningful support to individuals and families during times of crisis, poverty, homelessness and serious illness. http://mitzvahcircle.org