Of all the words of wisdom left behind by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the ones that struck a deep and resonating chord with me were those in the passage in which he used the words “flotsam and jetsam.”
With “flotsam” being the wreckage of a ship or its cargo drifting on the sea or washed ashore, worthless things, and making the association to unemployed people … and with “jetsam” being that part of the cargo thrown overboard to lighten a ship in danger, the famous quote in which these words were used said much about how society and our rulers viewed us then…as now.
“I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”
Those words capture our struggles against tyranny and injustices of all kinds. This is why I fight for fairness, because I refuse to accept the view that any humans should be seen as mere flotsam and jetsam. #iRefuse
My “political life” was launched in the 60s as I watched Dr. King stand for the dignity and the decency of humanity. He pointed to cultural habits that denied equality and equity to too many and he spoke of a road to a future about which I, too, could only dream.
I admired those who were inspired by his words (and their own moral compasses) to actually live the words that end the Declaration of Independence to “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” Many of them did in fact sacrifice their lives and fortunes in service to the dream.
It is no accident that all these years later I find myself engaged with Coffee Party, an all volunteer band of folks who serve a commitment that Dr. King would recognise.
Coffee Party USA envisions a nation of diverse communities sharing a culture of informed public engagement where our sacred right to vote is the only currency of our representative democracy.
Today and every day I stand in awe of and live in tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
How often do you think about serving others? Your partner? Kids? Parents? What about the wider community? For me, turning MLK Day into a day of service makes sense. We can serve others with kindness in our hearts — not obligation. We can choose to listen a few minutes longer and make eye contact to renew our connections. For me, MLK represents this spirit of service to a cause larger than ourselves and the courage to do what is difficult or seemingly impossible.
How has the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. impacted your life? What still needs to be done? Please respond (briefly) by commenting below.