I remember when I was 5 years old and developed an insatiable love of reading. I would find anything to read from magazines to comic books. I even would take my dad’s dictionary and try to look up new words. It was thrilling to be able to read as a kid.
One day, I had picked up a calendar and looked up my birthday, January 15th. To my surprise, I saw it marked as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday too. I asked my parents who this man one was and they gave me a bit of history on what he did. I was in awe that I shared the same birthday as a great person. To a 5 year old, it’s just the greatest news in the world to learn these things.
On the day I had learned about MLK, I had an appointment with a doctor that day. I remember going into his office and jubilantly telling him about what I had learned. I was hoping that he’d be as excited as I was knowing that I shared a birthday with a great man. To my disappoinment, the doctor replied to me, “Well, he’s just a black man.” I was heartbroken as a kid and it’s something I never forgot.
The more I grew up and learned about Dr. King and what he did, I always remained proud that I had the same birthday as him. He was one man who did something very brave to make things better for people. He inspired so many to join him in making a right from a wrong even though it was an unpopular and very dangerous stance to take. To me, he was more than just a black man, but a real inspiration to so many that helped to change the world.
I never realized that one day, I’d set foot in the National Civil Rights Museum while visiting Memphis. This museum was build around the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated. It also houses the bus where Rosa Parks had boarded and is filled with other historical artifacts around the civil rights movement. I was overcome with emotion as I walked around this museum. It was the same sadness that overwhelmed me when I visited the Holocaust Museum. I still get emotional just thinking about what people faced in this century.
Dr. King was just one many who inspired many to change the status quo for many people. His movement made things better for so many. One man changed the world for so many generations. What he did shows us that in our own actions, we too have the power the change the future. Joining the popular, transient movements aren’t always the right thing to pursue. We have to strategically look at the things that will affect generations to come. Teaching our children to look to the future and inspiring to be innovators and creative and critical things is an investment for their future. Like farmers planting the right seeds for the best crops, we as a society must cultivate the right environment that will foster a brighter future.
My birthday wish is that we continue to grow as people and cultivate a desire to learn and end fear of what isn’t understood. We can’t sustain a community of people remain fearful and resistive to collaboration. We don’t encourage our children to gossip and spread false rumors in schools so why should adults continue to do that? Genuine leaders will take the hard step of standing up for the facts and being a good example to others. We already have enough divisiveness in our country and in Hawaii and it’s time to start the healing and move forward. It’s time for it now and we all deserve a Hawaii filled with aloha.