We cannot sit idly by

"I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham", notes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his epic letter from Birmingham Jail.

As a number of people are aware, he pens this while sitting in jail and speaking to the issues at hand, ranging from the inequities based on ethnic background, class, caste, as well as how the silence displayed on the issues at hand is essentially co-signature on the foolishness and detrimental actions taking place. He notes the inactivity of the audience that should be the most outspoken when it comes to stewardship, outreach, and advocacy, which happens to be the clergy.

And as surprising as it sounds, for someone who is advocate of constructive social change across ethnic and class lines, King isn't as "universally respected" as people would think. Based upon one of the Gallup Polls during the era (visit http://www.gallup.com/poll/20920/martin-luther-king-jr-revered-more-after-death-than-before.aspx when you get a moment), a "mixed" view is an understatement.

Fast-forward to the events taking place in Charlottesville, VA. You have a group of people who are protesting in favor of keeping a landmark that is grounded in the systematic disenfranchisement of people of color (Black/African-American), let alone enhancing the view of said people being deemed as less than human (keep in mind the 3/5 Amendment, where Black people count as 3, is the law of the land at the time, and some would argue is the mindset of the times), marching in favor of treating citizens as less than. To make matters worse, some of these people are brandishing weapons; if not for counter-protesters who take the mindset that support of this kind of mantra and mindset is utterly wrong, to say that chaos ensues is an understatement. Compounded by known facts ranging from James Allen Fields being the prime suspect of a person driving a vehicle and plowing it into people, including killing 32-year old Heather Heyer, to the beyond ambiguous comments made by the current commander-in-chief saying both parties are wrong, it makes you wonder if people are more focused on sitting idly by than truly making a powerful statement.

At times, ranging from raising children to doing your job, and yes, addressing social issues, doing what is right is not always going to be received as such. There is a segment of the population who thinks their way is the right way and the only way. This kind of thinking does not bode too well in issues ranging from unequal pay based on gender, to redlining by insurance companies to overcharge people based on the part of town they live in and other related rates, to thinking that "fearing for my safety" is justification for law enforcement to shoot unarmed citizens,, especially when black victims are killed at a rate five (5) times as much as other ethnic groups (visit https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/ for some interesting findings).

Again, doing what is right at times is going to draw the infamous "side-eye" to harsh criticism to simply "stay out of it", or "stay in your lane". Before you consider doing so, consider any sort of advancement, ranging from business, technology, and other fields, calls for being going against the grain, or breaking away from what the norm is, and doing something different. Some call it innovative, others may call it something vastly different, but in heeding the call, it means you have to consider putting yourself in an uncomfortable space and place for the greater good.

Everyone is not going to comprehend, understand, or applaud, and it may not always draw the likes and comments that people desire on social media and other related platforms. However, if that is what you are doing whatever for, ranging from family, career, community, and other measures, then such popularity is likely to be fleeting and short-lived. Any innovator's contributions aren't initially received as such, but later on down the line, people all of a sudden appreciate one's genius. What does this mean for all of us? Be the best you can be, and do so in means and methods grounded in best practices in as sound a manner as possible. Don't be afraid to speak directly to matters at hand to the best of your ability; consider many of the "privileges" experienced today are due to others' sacrifices and willingness to go against the grain. And when in a position of leadership, remember you are the representative for more than just your friends and associates, especially when you hold a public office.

Don't abuse the perks without putting in the work, and don't be so selective in your outrage of external fringe elements when there are enough here alone.

King's quote from his "I've been to the Mountaintop" seemingly speaks to this and other areas of concern, let alone drawing this entry to a close.

"All we say to America is, be true to what you said on paper".

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