50 Years of Progress?

Here I sit, having spent much of the past few weeks struggling to find the thoughts and the time to sit and add another post to this blog. I apologize for my absence. I think it is fitting that I return on another day remembering Dr. King and his contribution to the world.  Today we remember his sacrifice. He lost his life 50 years ago, but his message continues on.

In 1967, in a Christmas sermon on Peace he offered the following:

"If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream."

Hope, a word that can mean so much.  Dr. King had hope for a better tomorrow, a place where peace was real and people treated each other as equals.  His hope kept him moving through some very rough moments. Moments where violence and anger were all around him, inflicted by close minded people who saw themselves as better. But also times when there was strife and dissension within those around him, those who shared his struggles. He moved forward because of his dream, his vision of what could be.  A society where each person lived for each other, not for themselves. He gave of himself to create change and sought to do so peacefully.

Hope is a key to forward motion, to growth, to change. Without hope, we fall stagnant.  We stop moving.  But worse than just stopping, we begin to decay and fall apart, unable to stand where we once were.  It is what drives us when all else seems to be against us. It helps us to overcome.

In my professional experience, I spent hours defining a vision for my company or my group within the company.  Goals and aspirations for myself and my team to drive toward.  They often included being the best, making the most money, outperforming others to gain market share. These goals were often very competitive and self-focused.  We may have said "service our clients", but did we really work in the clients in mind, or ourselves? The goals drove us to success. They were something we often worked together as a team to accomplish. And we were happy when the goals were met and if others got in our way, we would defeat them and celebrate. To the victors go the spoils.

Today in my life, I have come to a different view.  My vision, my hope, is not driven based upon personal gain or competition. I strive to live a humble life.  A life where I am aware of the needs of those around me and how I can help fill them. Professionally, I still seek to make a living and pay my bills but my goals are different; I don't need bigger, better or faster than the next guy. Today I don't focus on taking, but rather giving. I see myself as part of the whole as opposed to an island unto myself. It is a very different view of life, and one that brings me peace.

To get here I have traveled a rough road. I have struggled and seen both success and failure. I have fallen hard and with help stood again to move forward. There have been moments where hope was all that drove me to take a step; belief that my future was better than my present. Those who helped me have inspired me to help others who are looking for hope. I still have a long way to go on my journey, but I can see the place I long to be, a community of mankind where I can contribute and grow. A place where each one reaches out to help those around as opposed to the competitive world where we step on each other to get ahead.

I am thankful to have the words of Dr. King to study and ponder.  He is one of the men I look to as a role model for my life. His hope for a better world is one that I share in so many ways. Today as you remember, hold up a mirror and look at yourself. Change begins there, inside. What do you hope for?  What is your dream?


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