Celebrating and recognizing Dr. King’s message of service


(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)

Jan. 19, 2019 — In the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech on service, he spoke of one’s greatness and how, with that greatness, we must become the servant.

“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve,” he said. His mission, passion and life’s work was to help people who needed him most. And in that spirit of greatness and service we have MLK Day as a federal holiday and day of service.

It’s a day ‘on’ — not a day ‘off.’

Central to each religious tradition is a basic universal principle “Do unto others” and in some traditions “Put others first.” And in this spirit of doing, by serving we take a posture of humility — which rather than being a sign of weakness is a sign of strength.

Of greatness.

We all value different things in different ways but the virtues of service give us a common ground; our humanity. And this outreach of serving when done in a spirit of kindness and care ultimately make us happier, healthier and stronger people.

Service gives us something in common and unifies us in our common humanity.

Service is an action. And this action of service is very much alive and woven into what makes our community unique; it builds our sense of community and connects us in this common, useful and unified way.  And when we become unified, it strengthens us as individuals and as a community as we move forward in whatever we set out to accomplish.

It is also out of this desire to serve that social justice is present. Service transcends race, gender, religion, politics and age. To care for others or each other is to hold the hand of the dying or infirmed, to shelter those who are homeless, to feed the hungry, to educate and to protect.

We see this in our many local many organizations that serve those in need through warming shelters, resources and safety made available for families, food provided each day or week, building homes for low-income families, and even the love and protection given to our beloved pets.

Service is a love, a commitment and a calling to do something and that is translated into action.

To serve others, we serve each other. This transcends the increasing “us vs. them” polarization and brings dignity and humanity to each person regardless of their status or condition. Serving each other reflects our greatness.

As we honor Dr. King, we honor all those who serve in our community, whether they be professionals, volunteers, advocates, whether paid, donated or gifted. Service and volunteering are central to our lives as citizens of Florence and the Siuslaw region, and we see this vibrantly every hour of every day in our caring and gener-ous community.

Monday afternoon, Jan. 21, from 2 to 4 p.m., Reverend King’s vision of service and social justice will be honored during a special program hosted by The Florence Baha’I Church and open to all community members. The event will include speakers from Food Share, Free Lunch, Siuslaw Outreach Services, the Warming Shelter, Helping Hands and more. The program will also include several local poets and two young, local singers William Owens singing “Georgia” and Nyah Vollmar singing “Man In the Mirror.”

There will also be a 52-minute documentary, “American Story: Race Amity and Other Traditions.”

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