Thursday, January 22, 2015

Where it Matters, we are all the same...

I planned to write this post on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but well, life got the better of me.

I like that MLK was a Capricorn.  It explains all that tenacity!  I haven't seen Selma yet (it hasn't come to my little neck of the woods) but from what I have read over the years, Dr. King was a complex man who at his very core, knew right from wrong.  And when he saw wrong, he did something about it.

Sounds so simple, huh?  Lord I struggle some days not to say all the stupid shit that hops into my head.

Some days I do say it.  And then I have to say "do better, Wendy" and I try again.

But that life and death stuff that Dr. King and the other champions of Freedom then and now did and do, well that's in a league of its own.

But I let it inspire me, because if we're going to have role models in this life, they might as well be ones worth having, mightn't they?

Martin Luther King press conference 01269u edit.jpg

I am reminded daily that angry thoughts against oneself and others are a form of violence that should be curbed and sanded away as much as possible.  That energy has to go somewhere and it doesn't help.

But surely, the ongoing racial and religious intolerance of this world can't help but engender such thoughts.  I know it does in me sometimes.

Then I am reminded of Dr. King's words and know that I have to let those feelings go and find positive ways to make a difference, and the first way is always the most personal - being careful and kind in the things I say.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

I recently read the amazing book, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

Front Cover

Winner of a National Book Award last fall, the book is Jacqueline's retelling of her childhood, in verse.

It is amazing.

And while some will say this is a children's book, I think this is the most eloquent beautiful book and should be read and treasured by every age.

Her use of language to evoke images is haunting and inspiring.

In the poem called Ghosts she writes:

In downtown Greenvillethey painted over the WHITE ONLY signs,except on the bathroom doors,they didn't use a lot of paintso you can still see the words, right therelike a ghost standing in frontstill keeping you out

Stories and poems are often the best way to touch us I think.

As I read my way through the book I thought of how Jacqueline Woodson is exactly my age.

I thought of how she grew up in the Deep South during the Civil Rights Movement, then moved to New York City as a young girl.

I thought of how I grew up in a small town of almost all white people in Canada.

And yet, every single poem resonated with me.  So many of our life experiences of childhood were the same.  I could feel what she felt, I could smell it, I could taste it.

Once we step in another's shoes, really step in, we are forever changed, part of us cracking open, even the tiniest bit, letting that ray of understanding and love shine in.

Tomorrow I will try and do better.  That's all we can ever do I guess.  And mostly what I will try and do better at is forgiving more and being kinder.  And open my mouth about things that aren't right when I need to.  But in a firm, loving way, just like Dr. King did.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;only light can do that.Hate cannot drive out hate;only love can do that.

The journey is long, but it's worth taking, and it's not so bad when you have friends along the way...

xoxo wendy


  1. I grew up in Korea where I was brought up in an international school but a completely homogenous society on the other hand so these issues seemed rather foreign... I think people forget that he fought for all sorts of life. He was also a huge animal lover and was very serious that humans be thoughtful and kind creatures who should share the earth in a proud manner. That one always stuck with me.

  2. MLK's leadership is desperately needed these days with all these race-card charlatans such as Al Sharpton getting rich in his name wihle worsening race relations.

  3. Hello Wendy,

    Sadly, there are very few people such as Martin Luther King that one witnesses in a lifetime. The times we live in certainly could benefit from his words of wisdom and his capacity to stir the spirit but there do not seem to be any contenders for filling his shoes.

    Perhaps it sounds very trite, but we do believe that, in the end, we shall all be judged on love. And, when so many problems in the world seem to be beyond both one's understanding and one's capacity for change, we should remember that as individuals we can make a difference to the corner of the world we call home.

    1. Such a powerful thought that every day presents us with the opportunities to grow "love," in our families, with our friends, at our work and among strangers. Not trite at all -- enduring.

    2. Jane, Lance and GetFresh - agree completely!

  4. THOUGHTFUL ACTS OF KINDNESS Wendy, your post reminds me of another quote:
    "The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest good intention." -- Oscar Wilde
    Unfortunately, MLK Day also highlights how true, unifying leadership seems to be greatly lacking in this time, and how far we still have to go on so many divisions. But, you are on point, there is also so much hope in the power of one, connected to many other ones.

    To me one of the biggest first-step challenges is how, as a general society, we have become very focussed on our own needs and demands, and insulated, making us rather more oblivious to the people around us. Even something as simple as the pervasiveness of technology, which is on one level wonderful for connecting us in places as neighbourly as this blog and as globally as the Arab Spring communication. Yet, on the other, there are now distractions for our attention always at our fingertips, pulling us away from the real live people right across from us, and creating an "avoidance" divide.

    Along with generally being more thoughtful (self and others) I am trying to do three simple, active steps this year. Observe first, engage, stay present. Thank you for the reminder of the individual importance of living simple, daily kindness, with all. Your very personal words resonate, along with MLK's. And will look for that book as well.

    1. Thanks! I have determined that only speaking from a kind place, even when one disagrees, goes very far in this world!

  5. I love this Wendy!
    I open my mouth and dumb shit flows out all the time. I'm going to take a page from your book and be sure I speak out more loudly when I see injustice. I've been places where I was the only white person in a large group, and it's an uncomfortable feeling.
    I love your thought provoking posts!!

    1. Well I am usually removing my feet on a regular basis, so this is a slow lesson for me. What I am continually amazed by however, is my capacity to change and become a better person and I hope that is the case until I leave this planet (at 103, discovered in bed with some hot dude like Barry!)

  6. I need to concentrate on listening and not just just waiting for a pause to get my opinion across.
    The latest movie about MLK shows that he took on risks and danger that most of us can't even comprehend; such bravery.

  7. Just loved this Wendy. MLK is one of my heroes and he is still such an inspiration. His words are even more true today in this polarizing world. I especially love. "If we cannot come together as brothers, we will perish as fools." This book also looks like a gem. I'm going to find it.

    I am learning as I get older to listen and not open my trap so much. It's calming and you learn a lot by observing and not always interjecting. xo

  8. What you're saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I'm sure you'll reach so many people with what you've got to say.


Kindness is a virtue...