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Important Lessons for MLK Day
Today, January 20th, 2020, America celebrates the birthday and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember how much debate there was years ago over whether or not he should be remembered and honored with an American holiday. Well, one thing is undeniable about him, as well as so many others in our history. And that is the extraordinary courage it took to do what he did.
Known history is filled with such examples. Examples of individuals making a Decision that a particular cause or purpose is so important, so valuable, that it is worth the life of the individual. In each case, the individual believed that there was something greater than himself. How many of us personally believe that strongly in a cause?
The Civil Rights movement here in the US started with one woman‘s decision that she would rather suffer physically than to give up her seat to a white person on a bus. She knew the bus rule was unjust, and she knew she would suffer for violating that rule. But there was a far greater cause at stake! When Dr. King heard of what Rosa Parks had done, he took up the cause, fully understanding the obstacles and dangers that awaited him. Even though he knew he would be beaten, jailed, and likely be killed for standing up to oppressive societal rules, he Persisted because his cause was far greater than his own life. His cause was to persist, and to get others to persist, until America fully realized that “all men are created equal.”
It is easy to miss the magnitude of this point in history. It is a bit easier to understand if you look at the fact that many American colonists died for this very principle. Here again, a few individuals made the Decision that their cause, in this case freedom from the British, was more important than life itself. Their cause was to form a new separate and equal country. When the first American congress was held, in 1774, the decision was officially made. And, really, once the decision was made, the DESIRE was fully present, and the end result was unstoppable. When the 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson, they knew full well that if America were to lose the war with Great Britain, every one of the 56 men would be hanged for treason. They quite literally were signing their own death warrants!
Again, you have to understand the risk that these men took. They had to convince many colonists to be prepared to engage in a potential fight with Great Britain for freedom. The fight could have very well been lost. They staked their lives on a Cause that was uncertain and quite risky.
Right now, examine your commitment to a cause, any cause. How risky is the cause? Your life doesn‘t have to be at stake, but is your health at stake? How about financial security? The truth is, most people are unwilling to leave their comfort zone, even for a cause worth fighting for. Are you willing to leave your comfort zone in order to improve your life? You may not be aware of this, but the “comfort zone” is what robs most people of real life. Do you know why? If you think about it, it will be obvious to you.
When Abraham Lincoln made the Decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves in America, he knew it would create for him thousands of political enemies. He also knew that it would result in thousands of men dying in battle, leaving wives without husbands and children without fathers. In the end, he too was killed because of his DECISION.
The Emancipation Proclamation sounds glamorous in the history books, just as does the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It should have been easy for John Hancock to sign his name on that document, right? After all, he was going to be famous for it. Imagine being the President of a nation and making a decision that could completely destroy you politically, and likely get you killed. Do we have many leaders like that in the world? Or imagine going on a march where vicious dogs are waiting to attack you and police are waiting to shoot you. Imagine going to a meeting where the building could be blown up at any time by those that want you silenced. Would you dare enter such a building?
In the examples above, the decisions of Dr. Martin Luther King, the American Colonists, and Abraham Lincoln carried with them great risks. But the unwavering persistence in spite of the risks is important to notice. The lesson we should all learn is that THE GREATER THE RISK, THE GREATER AND FARTHER REACHING THE IMPACT AND THE REWARD.
In my own example, when I made the Decision to leave my “comfortable” job at a large software development company in order to pursue the passion for which I felt I was born, I was told that the move was “too risky” and unwise. For sure, I wasn‘t really risking my life, but there were still significant and obvious risks. I knew ahead of time that 90% of all businesses fail in the first 5 years. But what many people don‘t realize is that of the 10% that survive the first 5 years, 90% of those businesses fail in the next 5 years. This meant that I had a 1% chance of surviving. Not good odds! However, I can tell you that I am driven by an intense DESIRE and a PASSION for what I am doing that will fuel my cause for the duration of my working years.
Once again, are you willing to take a risk for something that you believe strongly in? If such a thing doesn‘t exist for you yet, may I suggest that you seek it out? If it does exist, then why are you not pursuing it? Remember, if you have the DESIRE, and it is strong enough, then you have the fuel to move forward. The next step is to take ACTION by creating a plan and surrounding yourself with people that can help you and who have a similar DESIRE.
It is relatively easy for us to read about and even discuss historical figures and totally miss this point. These people made a definite decision to achieve an end result, oftentimes at the cost of their own lives and the lives of others. And in each case, they understood that the end goal was far more critical and important than their own personal lives or safety. They believed in a higher power and purpose. The reason I bring this up is because I believe it is incumbent upon each of us, in order to live life to the fullest (as I believe we were intended), to find that thing that we are here to achieve, then go after it!
For me, I also made the Decision to vote and take part in the political process here in America once I understood the cause for which so many MILLIONS of men and women have died, from the American Revolution to the Civil Rights struggle. To have a passion is to live.
Think about where your passion lies…
To Your Health!
Jeff Wooten, “The Body Mechanic”
Remember my vision for us — We will age together! But we will be different from previous generations. I want us to be functional centinarians, free from the chronic diseases and pains so common today. Know this: Aging is mandatory. Maintaining functional fitness and vibrant health — well, that’s optional!
Have a super great day, and an even better tomorrow! See you soon!
To Your Health!
Jeff Wooten, “The Body Mechanic”