Of all the amazing accomplishments we could focus on, today we are going to discuss MLK’s vision of a world without fear.
You may have noticed, I did not put out a video, podcast, or article yesterday for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Growing up, we would always do something to remember the life and legacy of Dr. King. My mom worked for the school district, so she had the day off and my dad would make sure to have it off too. Even if he worked at a company that did not recognize MLK day as one of their holidays, he would use one of his vacation days.
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Not in fear of any man
Many of you have the same abilities, aspirations and goals to make the world a better place; but you are not listening to the message inside of you. As you chase happiness, you must rise to the challenges you face along the way.
Dr. King would say he was not in fear of any man and that his eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
There is an immediate and long term impact of every decision you make. Fear makes it difficult to think about anything but the short term consequences. Dr. King understood each of his decisions had a short term consequence. He knew members of his organization would be beaten, imprisoned and killed for demanding equality.
How do create a world without fear?
How was Dr. King able to overcome real fear? He focuses on the future and thinks about something greater than his fear. In Dr. King’s case, he thought of God and his promise to keep him in times of pain and anguish.
Instead of being focused on the immediate consequence of your actions, try focusing on the long-term reward. You may lose a friend in the short-term, but what could you gain in the long-term?
Steve Harvey talks about chasing happiness and the struggles he faced along the way. He talked about living in his car, being hungry, and feeling defeated. Looking at all the success he has today, Steve said he would change one thing if he could. He said, he would have asked other successful people to share their wisdom. He learned most people are willing to share their knowledge if you just ask.
Can’t we all just get along?
When you look at the overall divisive climate of the country, high divorce rates, and the low percentage of people who enjoy their job – it is clear something is missing in most people’s lives. Dr. King explained why people fail to get along below:
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” ? Martin Luther King Jr.
You may have experienced the truth of this statement at work or with friends and family. Someone who has had very little “real world” interactions with you has built a belief based on fear and misinformation. The person has never had a conversation with you or collaborated on any projects, yet, they have a very strong opinion about you. If you are fortunate enough to have a conversation with them, you discover they misunderstood something or heard second hand information that they took as truth. Unfortunately, most conflicts are left unresolved because of an unwillingness to communicate with each other.
Why we need a world without fear
I recall worshiping at a congregation many years ago and a gentleman within the church leadership was sharing misinformation about the black community on his Facebook page. He shared a post with a graph: black on black crime was ~80%, white on white crime was 5% and black on white crime was 80%. Knowing those numbers are false and propaganda from a hate group like the KKK, I was very upset.
I remember confronting him and sharing with him how the information was not true. Of course, he didn’t believe me so I went to the FBI database and pulled the crime stats and shared it with him. The real data shows that every ethnicity have over 60% of their crime within their own community. This is driven by the fact that most crimes are committed near the perpetrators residence and the unfortunate truth that America is still very segregated.
When facts are not enough
At this time in my life, I still believed people could be converted with facts and figures. However, I have come to learn that feelings play a significant role in whether someone will believe the facts presented. In the case of this gentleman, he did not believe the information he shared was wrong and told me the FBI database was incorrect. When I asked for further clarification, he told me the FBI changed the way they classified “white” and it now includes Hispanics and other ethnic groups. And it is those groups that are skewing the crime data.
What I have learned is people are misinformed, but they enjoy being misinformed. It is too much of a burden to consider whether what they believe is true. In a world without fear, people will be better equipped to accept the truth. When you are attached to a belief, changing that belief can create a ripple effect throughout your life. Most people are fearful of change and would choose a consistently poor situation than risking things getting worse with a possibility of an improvement long term.
Like a pig in mud
There are people who enjoy their misinformation like a pig enjoys rolling in mud. They do not want to be informed, nor are they interested in discovering the truth. There are people who enjoy having someone to blame more than they enjoy having to work for a solution.
A spirit of strength and courage
MLK’s quotes really highlights the peril that can result when you do not fact check the information you receive or speak to the person you heard something about. And once you have the proper information, you need the courage to take action based on your new belief. I am reminded of the scripture that says we were not given a spirit of fear, but one of strength and courage.
Once you understand where fear comes from, you then want to build the strength to take action. In the example I just gave, he did not the strength and courage to take action when exposed to new information. The problem with new information is not as much the impact it has on the person in the initial conversation, but the impact it could have on the rest of their life.
When fear cripples change
Someone with a belief that black people are lazy and more prone to violence has built a network of people who share his belief. What this means is for him to change his belief, it is likely going to cost him some of his closest friends. He is going to wonder if he shares the same data with them, whether they will believe it. As his mind continues racing, the fear of the unknown and the fear of the worst case scenario took hold and made it impossible for him to accept the new information.
This brings us back to where we started this conversation. When things are so difficult in the beginning that the immediate impact is so grave that many of us don’t take action. We would rather live a life a lie or a life of fear than to rise to the challenge. In your achojah journey you are going to face challenges that will cause the average person to turn and run. But you know you have the ability to overcome that challenge and positively change your life.
MLK did not have a spirit of fear, but one of courage and strength. He knew the task at hand was going to result in a lot of people being beaten, imprisoned, and murdered. However, he was not willing to settle for a life that was less than his mission. King is a classic example of chasing happiness and catching greatness. By not settling and following his inner drum beat of happiness, he was able to accomplish feats that most didn’t even think was possible.
Dr. King lived in a world without fear and he wanted to create that same world for others. He knew if America was able to overcome her fears, she could live up her ideals. Do not allow a world of fear keep you from chasing happiness. The journey will be tough in the beginning, but if you persevere, you will realize it was well worth it. Dr. King did not allow his short term fears to keep him from achieving long term happiness… and you shouldn’t either.
Until next time,
Dre “Better Self, Better Wealth” Griggs