I’ve been contemplating how to write this post. I want to share how I feel about the 2016 election and upcoming inauguration, but there’s a big part of me that still feels in shock and disappointment. And so much sadness. Not for the things that are about to come out of this, but because it’s an absolutely devastating feeling to realize this country isn’t the country I thought I was living in.
What crystallized my feelings was that this work week started with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and ends with the inauguration of 45th President of the United States. I honestly have so many mixed emotions, none of them good. I really wish I was writing an uplifting post about how motivated I feel the get engaged and fight for things I believe in. I do feel that way, but the feeling of being absolutely gutted has not left me since November 8th.
This election was hard because it changed the way I saw the world around me. And maybe that’s due to lack of understanding of places that aren’t cities in America. I saw my country wasn’t what I thought it had become. More accepting, more loving, more caring, more diverse. This country isn’t the country I thought it was. It was like a loss of innocence, and opened my eyes to what many have known for the past 50 years or more–the more things change, the more they stay the same.
And yet, as big as all these issues are, we are all individually left to live our lives on a daily basis, making choices that reflect the world that we want to live in. I choose to live in a diverse city where people of different races, religions, economic backgrounds and cultures live side-by-side. Not only because we have to, but because we want to. Because it makes us better. Because we’re creating the world we want to live in. If that’s a bubble, then so be it. I’d take this diverse bubble any day over more of the same.
I spent a lot of time re-listening to MLK’s Drum Major Instinct, the last sermon before he was assassinated. Here’s the whole sermon, and also a shortened version. Also, text here. The sermon talks about the essence of humanity is to seek praise and attention. However, this instinct, what he calls the Drum Major Instinct, can be subverted for the worst, but also for the best.
. . . We are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. “I must be first.” “I must be supreme.” “Our nation must rule the world.” And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I’m going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken . . .
I can’t help but to think about King’s words as we approach Inauguration Day. As if we’ve gone adrift, inevitably. Again, as we have gone time and time again. But King also preaches that we can choose what we choose to be drum majors for, and I think this is important to focus on. While the scope of issues will always be broad, as humans we must choose what we’re drum majors for:
If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say . . .
I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody . . .
I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.
And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked . . .
I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.
I do truly believe that it’s important to live a life of service. To consider those other than ourselves. To make sure people aren’t left behind. To not worship on money and power. I’m not a particularly religious or spiritual person, I don’t think service to others always has to do with that. I think it’s about choosing to take actions to create the world we want to live in everyday. That’s the way I choose to live.