January 2014 is almost over and it feels like it’s only been a few days. That’s OK though: January is always the dump month. Musicians dump their less-than-marketable albums, movie distributors drop their lackluster movies in the only time of the year they have a chance to make money, and people unload their dumpy moods freely because it’s cold. It’s not all horrible though! We’ll always have “This Week in Financial Blunders” to put things in perspective.
Known as one of the most celebrated leaders of the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped forge the path of equality for African Americans. While this is an important cornerstone of his work, we sometimes forget he sought justice for people who were viewed as second-class citizens and victimized.
According to The King Center, Dr. King wanted to erase what he called the Triple Evils: poverty, racism and militarism. Each of these things has an impact across the board for all people.
All races can experience poverty; it’s not limited to one group of people. At any moment, someone could go from riches and wealth to living on the street.
Similarly, anyone can experience racism. Something many people tend to forget is that Dr. King viewed racism as a larger epidemic than skin color. He advocated equality for those discriminated based on ethnicity, generalized stereotypes, sexual orientation or disability. King wanted to share that each of us at some point has heard hateful words or experienced hateful actions.
The idea of militarism in King’s eyes spanned more than simply speaking out against wars. He described militarism as someone trapped by either an internal or external force, who is exploited or not in control of their destiny. In many speeches, King encouraged people to join him in fighting against human trafficking, child abuse, illicit drugs, terrorism, domestic abuse and violent crimes.
The King Center notes that he created a six-step nonviolent approach to fight the Triple Evils above:
- Gather information and facts
- Educate yourself
- Commit to a nonviolent campaign for however long it takes
- Negotiate and try to come to a common understanding or solution
- Take action when negotiations break down
- Extend an olive branch to the opposing party once all is said and done
While these ideas were designed to battle social inequalities, they’re something we can apply to pretty much any situation we run into in our lives. We all could use these steps to improve our communication skills, whether at work or in our relationships with others.
For example, taking the time to learn about all sides of an issue may help us come to a mutually agreed upon resolution faster. Another useful tip is to make peace with the opposing side, whether your side wins or not. Grudges on either side make it more difficult to move on.
As Dr. King wrote in his book “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story,” “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.” On Martin Luther King Day, remember to reflect on King’s message of understanding, openness, kindness and peace towards all – no matter what race, religion, ethnicity or belief.
What are you doing today to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy? Share with other Zing readers!
Want to learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King? Check out this infographic from a previous Zing post!