Today is Marten Luther King, Jr. Day.
For most people this is just a day off, and sadly some people do not properly understand why we honor this man and the movement he championed. The holiday today is meant to highlight and honor all those who fought for civil rights and fairness. In some ways, the lack of understanding about why this holiday is so important shows how far we have come in terms of civil rights; many people today simply do not understand (and likely cannot even imagine) how unfairly, abusively, and disgracefully many Americans have been treated throughout our country’s history. The thousands of people who marched, were jailed, attacked by dogs, beaten, and subjected to countless horrors in the struggle for civil rights made possible the society we live in today, and they should never be forgotten. And at the same time, it must be remembered that even with how far we have come, there is still much more that needs to be done. Every day people are mistreated and abused based on their skin color, religion, ethnic background, sex, sexuality, and choice of lifestyle. So this speech still holds weight, it is still important, and indeed it will always be important. It reminds us that people should be treated equally and fairly. If you’ve never heard the speech before, I strongly recommend that you do. It is important and powerful. And if you take only one thing away from what I have said here, let it be this: treat everyone you meet with kindness and fairness. It is easier to be nice, it is easier to be polite, it is easier to see the ways that other people are like you rather than different from you. Patience and understanding are not hard, and they can make a world of difference, even for someone who doesn’t know you. A few nice words can save a stranger’s life. And above all, if you see something wrong happening, if you see a person being hurt or abused, or taken advantage of, don’t sit on your hands. Say something. Do something. If everyone does the right thing for other people, we’re all better and we’re all happier.