May My Life Not Be In Vain

Today, in addition to our nation inaugurating President Barack Obama for his second term as president, we also are taking the time to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in particular remembering Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963.  While I would never discount the immense importance of that most famous and important speech, my favorite speech by Dr. King is entitled “The Drum Major Instinct,” which he gave in 1968.   This speech focuses on Dr. King’s perspective on what a person ought to in order to be remembered, juxtaposing the awards and accolades Dr. King received with the actions and principles Dr. King considered most important.  At the conclusion of his speech, Dr. King quoted a refrain that always touches my heart:

  • “If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.  If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, if I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, if I can spread the message as the master taught, then my living will not be in vain.”

I love reading and rereading this passage, and would suggest that each of take some time to think about what this passage means, and what it can mean for us.  May Dr. King’s words inspire and challenge us, so that we might be drum majors for the causes and dreams he wanted all generations to fully realize this day and every day.

If you want to read the full text of “The Drum Major Instinct,” visit here.

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