Exercise your right to help others

Sometimes it can seem like holidays like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day serve their biggest purpose as an opportunity for politicians to pander. Especially in an election year, it can be easy to be jaded even at a place like Guilford College.

Luckily, we are part of a community that offers extensive celebrations of MLK, Jr. Day — celebrations that are more an opportunity to learn and reflect than an opportunity to celebrate in the common meaning of the word. Though it may be a cliché, MLK Jr. Day is not a day off at Guilford, but a day on.

That is the ideal, in any case, and the individual Guilford student is fortunate to be in an environment where they can realize that ideal if they so choose.

We should not let the holiday pass, however, without taking the time to reflect on the man himself. King is forever remembered for his work in the Civil Rights Movement, but we ought not think of him only in terms of racial justice.

King is often thought of as an African American leader. This is a limiting viewpoint, as King was a leader of all people, not a leader for a specific race. His work stands as a lesson of peace and humanity to people of all races.

Though we may become jaded politicians invoking this holiday for our own purposes, and we may be tempted to let it pass without meaningful reflection, let us not lose sight of that which King had to teach us.

These are uncertain times, and while the problems we face will not be solved merely by invoking the wisdom of past leaders, we may still find something to encourage us to find our own solutions. Hopefully, these words from King may give us some encouragement for the trials we face:

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”

In honor of King, let us not be separate, but together. Let us purge our fear and hatred of one another, and instead look to the future, united with courage to support each other, so that we may find the solutions to the problems of our age.