A meaningful holiday is upon us—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s a day in which we honor the service of Martin Luther King, Jr. and carryout our own acts of civil service if possible. Some businesses close shop for the day to accommodate the performance of such acts, but some don’t. This leaves a great deal of people stuck working on this federal holiday. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t observe and honor the holiday just as well. Regardless of where you find yourself on Monday, you can always contribute in spirit of the holiday with one or more of the following ways:
Learn a little.
If you’re stuck at work or otherwise indisposed on MLK day, you can still honor the man’s legacy by learning about it. Read what you can in your spare time—after work, with your phone on your lunch break, before you go to bed: any time you have. If you can, aim to gain a better understanding of King, his deeds, and the holiday. The fact that you’re reading this article is a good sign that you’re already aiming for a better understanding, so give yourself a pat on the shoulder. Read more than this, though. Read as much as you can. That way you might become enriched or inspired, but, either way, you’ll end up learning something.
Be a bit nicer.
Martin Luther King, Jr. worked for civil justice, equality, and harmony. Part of that comes from how neighbors treat neighbors. So, in the spirit of MLK’s legacy and devoted service to society, love your neighbor, love your co-worker, love your friend, love your mechanic, love that guy that’s always hanging out around the bench outside of the Walgreens — love anyone that’s a part of your community just a little bit more. If you can’t officially participate in community service, the next best thing is adopting the spirit of it.
Take the day off.
To put your best effort forward and give all that you can to the community, try to clear your docket for the day. If you want to do as much as you can for your community, try to be free of all prior engagements other than the civil service you want to undertake so you can give it your all. If you’re willing to try, you can even ask off of work to properly observe the holiday. The day is meant to be about serving the community, not going to work, so ask off and volunteer! … unless you work at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter… or as a civil rights attorney… in which case you could probably just go to work and honor King just the same.
Take the day on.
If you already have the day off, congratulations; it’s time to take the day on. Plan ahead so you can get involved in community service and celebrate the holiday the right way. If that’s your plan, start by searching for places to volunteer, like any local events or service promotions you can find. Tons of places organize community meetings and projects to be held on this holiday, so you shouldn’t have to search too hard.
Grow from your service.
No matter the extent of your service on MLK day— picking up litter in your neighborhood, washing your neighbor’s car, learning what you can about the holiday, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or buying a cheeseburger for that guy that’s still hanging out around the bench outside of the Walgreens—the greatest thing you can do is grow from the experience. This holiday, on paper, is one in which we’re supposed to perform acts of civil or community service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. But that’s only on paper.
In spirit, we’re working to better the community, strengthen its sense of equality, and increase all of our capacities for harmony. This day shouldn’t be what forces us to work together; it should be what reminds us that we should always work together. It’s the day that shows us how strong our communities can be with an active sense of togetherness. The best way to fully honor this idea is to embrace and practice it, not just once a year, but all year, every year.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day shouldn’t be a yearly day of forced activism in which you are made to participate. The day should be a reminder to always work together –a day when you look back at all the good you’ve done in the last year. It should be a day to plan for what needs to be done in the coming year, and most importantly, to acknowledge the things do today.