“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail
Of Dr. King’s many remarkable words, these resonate with me strongly this year as we commemorate his life and works. Written during his imprisonment for leading a nonviolent civil rights demonstration, their wisdom extends far beyond that context. They are a wake-up call to make best use of something we in our free society can all control: how we use our time.
My dear mentor says she can tell where my priorities lie by looking at my calendar. It’s so true. Her words give me a way to regularly assess whether I’m using my time to create in the world what I say is important to me.
If I substitute “Radiant health” for “Human progress” and “physical stagnation” for “social stagnation” in Dr. King’s quote, have I been consistent in my efforts to nourish the exquisite workings of the body with which I’ve been blessed?
If I substitute “Human relationships” for “Human progress” and “apathy” for “social stagnation”, have I been consistent in infusing my relationships with generosity and kindness?
If I substitute “My individual progress” for “Human progress” and “my life’s stagnation” for “social stagnation”, have I been consistent in setting a higher vision for my life, and investing in personal growth which improves my character and by reflection, the world around me?
No matter how you and I answer those questions, Dr. King leaves us with a touch of his greatest legacies: encouragement and hope. The time is always ripe to do right. Let’s you and I use our time creatively…starting now.