This is a reflection on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday by Open Arms Executive Director Sheila Capestany. It’s reprinted from our January Newsletter.
Every January, I find my thoughts wandering to our celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy in our world. I love his writings on his dream for our nation, on justice, nonviolent action, poverty, war and the ultimate survival of us as a people.
More and more, however, I find myself moved less by his words and more by his being. At his core, Martin Luther King loved. He loved people who were like him and people who weren’t. He loved people who fought with him and he even loved the people who fought against him. I’m not talking the kind of love that makes us want to spend time together, but the kind of love that makes us see each other clearly – inextricably linked within our common humanity and sharing our fate together. And he loved with the kind of love that made him believe that we all are better than the society that we live in, and therefore we can all be moved to act from our better selves.
This MLK Day in particular, I found myself thinking as well about King’s actual birthday. What was that day like for his parents? His mother labored and birthed him like we all birth our children. As Mrs. King held her baby, did she know he would change the world? Did the doctor? Certainly the hospital that denied his mother access to its facility didn’t believe so.
Recently, I was in a store browsing through cards, and I was stopped in my tracks by one card in particular. It read, “A possibility was born the day you were born and it will live as long as you live”. As I read that, I immediately flashed to Mrs. King and her baby, and all the babies we have held and welcomed into this world. I know that very few of us will change the world the way Dr. King did, but what if we welcomed all children with the possibility that they might? Or what if we welcomed all our children not just with the knowledge of their possibility, but with the knowledge of our common humanity – with love? What could our world be like?
At Open Arms, we believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every mother and baby. We believe in the possibility of every child that is born. And we believe that every mother and every family always have the opportunity to live out that possibility, no matter what has come before.
Thank you for being part of that vision.