Happiness and Equality on MLK Day
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Monday we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday and so tonight I want to talk a little about equality. When we discuss happiness we often naturally think of our own happiness, how to increase it, how to make our own lives better. It’s less common for us to focus on other people’s happiness and quite rare to think at the level of the happiness of an entire nation.
We honor Martin Luther King of course for his accomplishments, deeds and words but also as a symbol of the American Civil Rights movement and the change it brought to our country. Equality brings freedom and freedom brings more happiness. From gaining the ability to vote, to the election of President Obama, African-Americans have made significant gains over the last 50 years. As a result I will be bold enough to say all of us are happier. It’s difficult to be happy in a country where unfairness and inequality is so prevalent even if you are not a member of the group being treated unequally.
When I was a graduate student we had a custodian, Mr. Avery and he was in his late 70’s and had been working at the university since the late 50’s or early 60’s. We would often chat at night when he was cleaning the floor on which my office was located. On several occasions we chatted about what it was like at the university in those early days when he first started working there. He smiled at one point and said to me, “do you notice, I never walk past the fountain down the hall without stopping to take a drink.” I hadn’t noticed and told him so, “well, that used to be a whites only fountain.” It was certainly a little thing but it made him happy. So on the Martin Luther King Day we should remember the little things as well as the big things. We should also not forgot that inequality still exists in our country.
Unfortunately most minority groups in this country still lag behind whites in many categories. Disabled people still face societal obstacles and members of the LGBT community struggle to even have the basic right to marry the people they love. So let’s continue fighting for equality, which is also a fight for a happier world, have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.