“I have a dream..” Martin Luther King
Today is the 50 anniversary of the assassination of the Martin Luther King.
His message of non violence, love, and compassion for all of us was powerful.His willingness to step out, to speak up against racial segregation and violence, into a society that hated him. That takes courage The world maybe a different place from 1968 with technological achievements but there are people who continue to believe in hatred and violence. How do we change that mindset? Can his words change that destructive pattern of thinking?
I say YES?
Last week while holidaying in Cuba my husband and I met various people from all over the world. Each of us enjoying Cuba, the historical cities, friendly people and of course the beaches. In between snorkeling and walking along the beach we spent time under the covered poolside chairs. One couple from Germany, the wife spoke English and the husband spoke a few words and communicated well. Both were willing to spend time getting to know about Canada and we learned much about their own life in Germany.
Getting out of our comfort zone?
On our second day by the pool, we noticed another couple who were also enjoying the sun and the surf of beautiful white sandy Cuban beaches. We acknowledged them with ‘Ola’ in our best Spanish for hello. They spoke Russian and very little English yet we smiled at each other as we passed them to go to the beach. My husband knew a couple of greetings in Russian and it was evident by their happy expression, very pleased at our attempts for communication.
On the second last day while out snorkeling I found the most beautiful pink shell. With the excitement of a five year old, I ran up the beach and showed the Russian couple this beautiful shell. Their eyes lit up at this excitement and my willingness to show my prize find.
Later in the afternoon, they were at the swim up pool bar having lunch and indicated with hand gestures for us to join them for a drink. We sat beside them and with their best abilities to communicate with hand gestures and a word or two in English, we had a wonderful conversation. Later that afternoon we were invited to play ball in the pool. The four of us barely able to verbally share our thoughts, splashed around in laughter.
With the women winning the scoring game, celebrating each goal with a ‘hi5’.
As we gathered our beach gear, snorkel, suntan lotions, books, towels and hats, they motioned to me that they had something to say. I was unprepared for the emotional response they shared. You see they had been there for three weeks, and no one had made much effort to talk to them because they were Russian. The world is shunning Russia because of the person in power and his brutal politics, Putin. That meant all Russians were being shunned. I thought the same thing. I was unprepared for my own emotional response with a spontaneous hug.
The passionate words from the husband as he said, “Russians no politics, no politics”.
I nodded I understood what he was saying by adding, ‘no politics, friends’, not all Russians agree with the politics.
Using the only tools I had, my hands. With one hand responded ‘Canada’ the other hand ‘Russia’ spread my fingers wide, interlocking them repeated the word ‘friends’. This was a powerful bridge of understanding, of love and compassion. They also nodded they understood. Big smiles. They gave us the little orange ball to ‘remember’. Later that night we spotted them in the lobby to say goodnight to our surprise the husband gave my husband three Cuban cigars indicating ‘very good.’
Yes this was and is the message of Martin Luther King.
He may be dead but his words live on in each of us when we are willing to build bridges of understanding, get out of our comfort zone of thinking and avoid stereotypes of groups of people into one category and when we use kindness and a smile. This can change the world one person at a time. What can you do to make the world a better place locally and globally? It starts with you.