Saturday, January 15, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Eighty-two years ago Martin Luther King, Jr., was born.

I was reminded of a great sermon of Martin Luther King, Jr., "The Drum Major Instinct," by a post on Mercury Rising which included the text of the sermon and a link to the audio. Check it out here.

But one of my favorite quotes is a variation on a quote I heard King say in a North Philadelphia church about 1965. He used it in several other places, including a 1956 sermon.

Whatever is your life’s work, do it well.

A man should do his job so well

that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper,

sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures,

like Shakespeare wrote poetry,

like Beethoven composed music;

sweep streets so well

that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say,

“Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.”

It's such an important quote on the dignity of all work that I have translated it into Spanish and hope to incorporate it into a booklet on Catholic Social Teaching that I'm working on for the base communities in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán. My feeble attempt at translation can be found here.

In a country where a prominent high-ranking politician calls the people I work with and love "gente de la monte" - hillbillies - this message of King's, which echoes the teachings of Jesus and Catholic Social Thought, needs to be proclaimed throughout Honduras.

1 comment:

phoenixwoman said...

If you like MLK, Jr., Democracy Now carried speeches and file footage. There went a man.