A lesson from Dr. King | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 16, 2024

Kirk Boyd is a guest blogger for The Intelligent Optimist and secretary of the International Bill of Rights project.
Today I went with a friend to the Martin Luther King Day celebrations at Yerba Buena Park in San Francisco. It was a good event with around 500 people present, including some political representatives, such as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I have great respect and admiration for Dr. King. Indeed, he has been a strong influence on my career choices throughout my life. For 14 years I’ve worked to realize his dream, not just on his birthday, but for at least 1,000 hours in each of those years.
So when you read the following, do me a favor and think of the preface paragraph, lest you think I’m being disrespectful. One topic that came up today, as it has in the past, the extent we just pay homage to a great leader versus carrying on his work. Shortly before his death Dr. King was calling for a second Bill of Rights. He wanted economic and social rights such as education and health care. It really struck me today how we rightfully cast accolades to our great leaders, but how little we do to carry on their work.
If you really believe in the work and vision of Dr. King you will sign the International Bill of Rights. Why? Because when IBOR is implemented it will vastly change the structure of our international community to support people of color who are still suffering from the vestiges of slavery and discrimination. Anyone who says there is a level playing field for our global family is in denial. For those who have a problem with one article in IBOR, go ahead and explain that as a reason why you may not sign, but in so doing please look at the bigger picture of what IBOR would accomplish if it was adopted as is. If anyone out there reading this blog has a better vision for carrying out Dr. King’s vision, then please offer it up for the rest of us.
Dr. King understood the power of law. Much of the civil rights movement was about creating new law, a new agreement for humanity to live together. IBOR weds economic and social rights and civil and political rights — and then goes even further, requiring countries to fund the recognition of economic and social rights, which is absolutely essential.
It’s time to be honest. Incremental steps are not moving nearly as swiftly as momentous issues such as global warming and the ever widening gap between rich and poor. Billions live in destitution around the world and the cities slums are expanding. And it’s not just poor countries: 65 percent of all Americans are living hand to mouth each month. I’m optimistic enough to believe that the people of this world are ready to take a stride, not another small step. King studied Gandhi. King’s vision, as with Gandhi’s, made great domestic changes but was truly universal — now it’s time for us to apply it universally by reading, signing and sharing an International Bill of Rights. Reading the “I Have a Dream” speech is great; I did it today, but it’s not enough.
“Think global, act local” is no longer sufficient. Sure, I’ll buy local organic produce, and support local schools, but now it’s also time to “think global and act global.” IBOR does this.
King’s vision is not begging governments to take small steps. It’s rising en masse and telling governments that in accordance with our social contract they must take a stride. For them to stride, we must stride first. Long live Dr. Martin Luther King.
Photo: Betsy Graves Reyneau/Wikimedia

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