Martin Luther King’s Eternal Question

The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. covers many areas of public and democratic life. Based on a philosophy of non-violent protest, he transformed the civil rights movement into a national priority. Before he was killed, he had also spoken out against the Vietnam War in Vietnam and organized the Poor People’s March on Washington. The march’s goal has been transformed today into a growing concern with income inequality as the American economy celebrates a full decade of positive growth.

But as important and unfinished as these concerns are, I think King’s legacy for an individual may be more vital than a specific issue on one’s social/political agenda.

A Call for Self-Reflection and Awareness

In his I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln monument, he prefaced his dreams with the following:

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

The Urgency of Now. That is the never ending question that each person answers in their everyday actions and priorities. It has both personal and professional or civic dimensions.

As credit union leaders, what is the most urgent priority motivating your leadership? Yes, circumstances can reorder priorities. But when do these become challenged? At a time when the cooperative system has record levels of reserves, members and assets, is better financial performance the most urgent issue?

A holiday from work is a time to step back, catch up, run errands or even honor the underlying reason for the day off. King’s holiday reminds us that what we do every day, the Now, matters. What is the urgency that causes you to get out of bed in the morning? What should it be?