“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we celebrate the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday, I am moved to contemplate his work that helped us, as a society, move towards progress, and balanced the light and the darkness. Namely, that he brought light into the darkness of prevalent racism, through his work as a civil rights leader in the 1960’s.
Today, I read a poignant article, entitled, “Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did“, which was published in Daily Kos. In this subjective piece, the writer talks about the impact of Dr. King as being more than just a great orator who addressed segregated schools, water fountains, why black people couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit at the back of the bus. In fact, the writer’s father encapsulated the massive impact as, “He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.” Imagine living in the 60’s, in constant terror that on any given day, you may be randomly and violently lynched, tortured, and/or killed, based on your skin color, and having it be a rampant epidemic that was acceptable to mainstream culture.
Dr. King helped black people confront their fears, and empowered a nation. Because beyond helping the black community, he helped other people of color, and other oppressed communities (and non-oppressed communities, alike), become stronger. And, thus, our collective consciousness was raised.
Talk about the impact one person can do.
Of course, he didn’t do this alone, as it was ultimately a collective movement. But, Dr. King’s message is an example of how the power of words, intention, and courage can heal massive rifts, despite the overwhelming odds.
I consider him a lightworker – a person who is a flashlight in the darkness. And, a fearless one, at that. His kind of energy is the kind that would inspire me when I would march in rallies as a community activist back in the day. He encouraged us to do what we most feared, especially if it would serve our highest good.
In an excerpt from his sermon, “Mental and Spiritual Slavery”, at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, in May 1954, he states, “Usually we think of slavery in the physical sense, as an institution inflicted on one group of people by another group. But there is another type of slavery which is probably more prevalent and certainly more injurious than physical bondage, namely mental slavery. This is a slavery that the individual inflicts upon himself.” (The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr: Advocate of the social gospel, King (Jr.), p. 168)
Mental and spiritual slavery can take many forms, a few can be:
- a deep seated belief that we are not deserving
- giving our power away to others on a regular basis, or not trusting our own voice
- seeing ourselves as not involved in our lives and personal agency
We have all been there, in our self-limiting beliefs. It is part of being alive and learning to thrive as a part of the whole. However, our power to transform, and rise above, is limitless.
Some examples of liberation from mental and spiritual slavery are:
- actively practicing self-love, and, thus, realizing that we deserve everything beautiful, loving, abundant, and joyful that we desire in this world (and universe!)
- owning our power, trusting our inner voice
- understanding that we are directly involved in what we create in our own lives, with the knowledge that whatever we do directly effects everything/everyone else (ie. no matter how small you think it is, your actions make a difference)
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.
So, in the spirit of Dr. King, I invite you to liberate yourself from whatever mental slavery you have subjected yourself to! Promote the justice within, to be the justice without.
What are your favorite techniques for achieving mental freedom?
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