Monday, January 19, 2015

He asked, "What are you doing for others?"

Life's most persistent and urgent question: What are you doing for others? 
- Martin Luther King Jr.

How do you answer this question?

Maybe you let that old pickup truck merge in front of you on the freeway even if you're in a hurry.  You give the first shopping cart to the person waiting behind you. You let the frazzled young mom with the fussy baby get in line in front of you at the market.

Maybe you're parenting. You adopted a child. You're a foster parent. You sponsor a less fortunate child. You open your home to your daughter's friend whose parents have to work after school. 

Maybe you write letters to your mayor, your congressman, your president. You protest against injustice. You send checks to help the victims of natural disasters. You are a first responder.

Maybe you're in the choir on Sunday mornings. You are an usher. You sweep the church, the synagogue, or mosque.

Maybe you put together plastic bags filled with socks and water and travel size soap and a tooth brush and hand them out to someone who looks like they can use it. You knit blankets for homeless babies or volunteer at the soup kitchen or bring canned goods to the food pantry.

Maybe you are a scientist looking for new ways to heal the world. You give someone hope. You're a nurse. You're a teacher.

Maybe you're the caregiver for an older family member or your partner who had a stroke or suffers from dementia.

Maybe you left a really big tip.

Maybe you're a volunteer coach, or classroom assistant, or you chaperone the field trip. You check math homework. You wield a glue gun to help with someone's fifth grade science project.

Maybe you adopted a pet. You give financial support for neglected and abused animals. You find a stray dog and call the number on her tag and wait for her person to come.

Maybe you read to kids at the library or to someone who has lost their sight. You teach a grown up to read. You donate books to a school.

Maybe you pay for the order of the person in line behind you at the drive-thru coffee place.

Maybe you have friends who are elderly. You visit a nursing home. You carry on a longer conversation than you really have time for with your widowed next-door neighbor. You shovel snow, rake leaves, or pull weeds for him too.

Maybe you give your time to recovering addicts or teenage runaways or those with a debilitating physical or mental illness. You give blood. You are listed as an organ donor on your driver's license.

Maybe you play an instrument for an audience, or write your friend a poem, or paint a mural. You invite the person sitting alone to dance. You create a beautiful garden. You make people laugh.

Maybe you call your mom every Sunday evening. You make an audio recording of an interview with your grandfather. You are the godmother to your sister's kids.

Maybe you're a veteran. You employ a veteran. You're married to a soldier.

Maybe you fold the laundry of the person who has left their clothes in the dryer too long at the laundromat. You give up your seat on the train. You put a quarter in someone's expired parking meter. You pick up trash at the beach.

Maybe you love someone with all your heart.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.