Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
Sean Egan (IBEW 275) is the Chair of the Kent-Ionia Labor Council.
Every year in our house, I read a speech from Dr. King on Martin Luther King Day. I generally stick to the most known speech— “I Have a Dream”— as this one captures much of Dr. King’s teachings. I do have other favorites, but a familiar theme carries through pretty much all of them, and that is to start from the premise of love.
Dr. King tells us often to love our fellow humans, to let go of ego and the desire to look down on others. To use this love to put ourselves in others shoes, to walk as they walk, and to live as they live. Use this love to strive for peace and equality as we cannot let our Brothers and Sisters toil in the misery of war or abject poverty. Use this love to create the policy and direction that allows everyone the opportunity to grow and participate while supporting those most vulnerable.
Dr. King, like many of my heroes, is a spiritual compass for all of us, and especially me. Sometimes we get off track as humans as we do have primitive instincts we must strive to control. Sometimes we allow fear, hate, bigotry, ignorance and our other negative emotions to rule the day and we need these great leaders to guide us back to center.
As my own spiritual leader and compass, Dr. King reminds me to never allow my own ego or fears to project onto others. We need to attack the issues with the ferocity of the lion, while attacking those who are opposed with the olive branch of peace, love— and if necessary, social disobedience and peaceful protest. To recognize that our quest to be the drum major must be tamed by our own goal of humility and selflessness.
Dr. King is only gone in body, his spirit and teachings remain. If we endeavor to follow the path that Dr. King and many other great leaders laid before us, we can overcome even the hyper-partisan, fear driven, grave inequality, poverty, ignorance, and any other issues we face today. If we believe for a moment that the future of our Brother or Sister has no impact on our own, then we must look deeper to see these connections.
For this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, I would encourage all of you to take some time with me to reflect on our current path, our anger, our fears and our society’s inequality. I would encourage us all to determine if our current path as individuals and a nation supports our goals of social justice eliminating poverty. I would encourage all to commit to building a more just society based on equality, understanding, and the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of all.
Whether you believe in evolution or creation, in either case we sprang from the same beginning. Because of this, it is clear to me that we are all Brothers and Sisters and must act as such. My hope is that love will triumph in our souls, but we’ll need our spiritual compasses to help us get there. Let’s start with looking at our fellow humans as Brothers and Sisters, and we can build from there.