I’m struggling today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to come up with a plan of attack for surviving the week.
I admit my instinct is to hibernate, to put on a cozy sweater, brew a pot of coffee, and snuggle up with a book, ignoring the world outside.
That might be the healthiest thing to do, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.
The public schools have a holiday today, and I get a holiday from work. I have mixed feelings about this holiday. Yes, I agree completely that King deserves a holiday in his honor. Our country needs to pause every year (more than annually, but certainly not less) to remember the struggles of our own people for justice and equality. But I don’t agree with the way most of us observe the day, especially not the schools.
Private schools mostly have school today, and most of them devote the day, or at least part of it, to special programming. My high school, back in the 1990s, devoted the day to learning about the teachings of MLK Jr. and talking about race. Today, many schools shy away from true discussion and instead devote the day to service. Again, I have nothing against teaching children that community service is noble, but I don’t think it’s the right use of the holiday.
I had one conversation with my 6-year-old about the day, asking what she knew and explaining why I felt it was important. I had hoped to show her some video, or read a book with her, or do something more than just one conversation, but life got in the way today.
I spent the day bouncing around the Internet, trying to consume important information: I read the history of the WEB Du Bois Center in Great Barrington, MA. I read a lot today about John Lewis. I picked at King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and turned on the video of his “I Have a Dream” speech. I read post after post on Facebook of my network struggling right along with me. Searching, searching, searching for a way to make sense of where we are today, in 2017. How did we get here?
I also spent time nursing a sick baby and playing games with an energetic first-grader. I cooked a pot pie. I took down the Christmas tree. I promoted the vigils I’m working on. I did laundry and dishes and still didn’t manage to get the dining room picked up.
I sat down to write, hoping the act would help me sort out the jumble of my head. Usually, it does. Usually, I can count on writing to make sense of my thoughts.
It doesn’t seem to have helped much.
I want to make a pledge to write every day this week. I think my brain is going to need it, even if I don’t figure it all out by the end of the post.
Maybe, at the very least, I’ll figure out a fitting way to spend my day on Friday.
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