#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”
It’s been a wild and crazy time in social anxiety and political discourse over the past few days, and even over many months. The list of mouth-dropping moments is still growing. As the nation celebrates another Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, many consider throwback moments from his day compared to today.
During his time King delivered inspiring messages of hope and social change. Sometimes it was in written form like his letter from a Birmingham jail. Other times it was through his oratorical genius heard in the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. His life’s work continues to challenge the powerful and empower the masses.
There was his 1967 speech to a Philadelphia High School where he asked students to consider their life’s Blueprint. He told them that it’s important to have a great sense of self-worth as well as a determination to achieve excellence. He also encouraged a commitment to principles of beauty, love and justice.
He ended by saying no matter the challenge whether social or personal, they should just keep moving. That’s a theme that would apply today as we consider top news stories and ask ourselves ‘What is America’s Blueprint?’ The answer needs to be more than just political talking points as we consider:
- What gives us the honor of being America the brave?
- How do we take pride in being America the beautiful?
- How do we improve the standing of America the brand?
- What keeps us moving towards being America the best?
A tragic fire in the Bronx a few weeks ago took the life of an American soldier. It was reported he went back in the building many times to rescue others. He lost his life in the process. There’s no question that he was an example of America the brave. He didn’t die fighting a war but warring the fight to save others.
These days there’s a fight for truth on our hands. It takes being ‘America the brave’ where loyalty doesn’t get confused with its newest form of lie-alty. Dr. King once said “To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it.” Well, today he might update those words in saying “To ignore lie-alty is to become accomplice to it.”
The Superbowl show lineup is set to include a performance of America the Beautiful by Leslie Odom Jr. The national anthem will be sung by P!nk and the halftime show featuring Justin Timberlake. But it’s more than just a song and a dance in these performances that will help us take pride in America the beautiful.
King would remind us that we fall short of America the beautiful if we glorify the flag but decry the ideals of the Constitution. We fall short if we elevate hate but denigrate love. We fall short if we multiply our economics but divide our politics. We fall short if socialism benefits the rich and capitalism hurts the poor.
Some recent news stories make us wonder about the effects on America the brand. Having migrated to the US over 35 years ago, there’s a sense for the ‘before and after’ experience. For many, before coming to America there’s a sense of awe and wonder. After coming to America it’s a sense of wonder and awe.
On the inside you see the winning formula of ‘America the brand’ is its diversity. That diversity is built on being an immigrant nation. So can ‘America the brand’ improve its standing by damaging the winning formula? That’s the question to be answered by political leaders if they want America to keep its magic.
These days King might have a problem with many of the policy reversals underway. America’s history has had its moments of choosing between settling or rising. It’s like a bottle of juice or liquor that sits for a long time. They’ll need a little stirring or shaking-up to get the full measure of taste and enjoyment.
King reminds us that it’ll take a drum major instinct to shake things up, keep things moving and get the full measure of America’s promise. Sometimes it’s being a drum major for dignity, for excellence, for purpose. We get to ‘America the best’ by being a drum major for justice or at least standing up for something.
Tip: We’ll keep celebrating America the beautiful and moving towards America the best by being a drum major for justice or at least standing up for something.
Talkback: How are you being a drum major socially, professionally, in the community or in pop culture?
Tracks: Bob Marley – Keep on Moving – https://youtu.be/tsjVzuUg4qo
Andra Day ft Common – Stand for Something – https://youtu.be/2GhY7qXGx-0