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Celebrating a life of Service
January 21, 2013

“Everybody can be great,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “because everybody can serve.” King’s legacy is one of courage in the face of injustice, love in the face of hatred, and service for the common good, and so it’s fitting that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has become known as a day of service. In fact, Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, once said that “the greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the day by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.” And so we challenge you—as we challenge ourselves—to honor his legacy today. According to King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” Despite the victories of the Civil Rights Movement, the fight Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought in the 1960s against evil and injustice is not over. King once noted that “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.” His words are as relevant today as they were then. He was born into a world where the American slave trade had been illegal for more than 70 years, yet unjust and insufficient laws, entrenched racism, and widespread apathy had allowed discrimination to flourish unchecked. Similarly, nearly every county on the globe has outlawed slavery and human trafficking, yet insufficient laws, widespread apathy, and persistent injustice has allowed modern day slavery to take root in every country on earth. Slavery is different today, of course, but not in the ways you’d think. It’s far more widespread and even easier to overlook. For most of us, it feels like a distant problem—none of our concern. But, to borrow King’s words, “an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” King had strong words for those who stayed silent about things that matter. If you’re not yet involved in fighting the injustice of modern slavery, today is the perfect day to begin. You could start with something simple like resolving to buy only fair trade coffee or chocolate. Or you could join us in fighting against some of the deep, systemic causes that allow exploitation to flourish in places like Thailand. Whatever you do, make today count. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day isn’t just a random Monday off in January. It’s a day to cherish our freedom—and pay it forward.

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