In honor of Martin Luther King Jr day, below is a quote from his “But If Not…” speech that is often shared, but the last paragraph is most often left out which I think is actually the most powerful and poignant point of the whole piece. Here is the missing piece.
“You died when you refused to stand up for right. You died when you refused to stand up for truth. You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”
These compelling words from MLK and the fears he speaks of in this speech are timely for me because this is the exact fear that has been holding me back. If you are a changemaker, an activist, an idealist, a lightworker, you most likely have held similar fears. Recently, what MLK speaks of is the personal issue I have been consciously working on reconciling.
You know that thing you resist the most is actually the thing you need to work on the most. This is mine.
Will you choose courage for truth, justice, and the higher good of all, or will you choose regret. Because that is what will happen if you continue to hide and suppress that calling in the name of the safety of silence.
This specific wisdom and call for action from MLK is so needed right now especially for those of you who have been feeling a calling inside of you for a long time and you have yet to move forward on it because of fear.
You are needed, now, my fellow changemakers.
To hear these words in MLK’s voice will shift you. Listen to the video.
He was killed one year after giving this speech, at the young age of 39. MLK was most definitely an old, wise soul. I can almost imagine if we could talk to him on the other side, he’d say that he has no regret for standing up for what he believed in and not letting fear stop him from his purpose work.
Can you imagine if MLK let fear hold him back and he stayed quiet, and we never heard from him?
What a great loss to the advancement of humanity. And no doubt, he had no idea what the impact of standing in his truth, and shining his light would have years beyond his physical time on earth.
My bestie and I were having a conversation all weekend about the life of a lightworker, and how I have been struggling harmonizing my spirit life, and my earthbound life. I associate joy with one, and brutality with the other, and that’s a problem because this spirit is contained in an earthbound human body.
I do not fear failure or success. I’ve experienced both and understand its the ups and downs of the process, the delight and suspense of the journey. I have deep seated fears and anxiety because I have experienced painful loss and physical violence when I speak truth and step into my light and shine that light on the dark.
I’ve been hiding, staying off the radar for a long time, and for good reason. Time for healing is important too. I won’t diminish the significance and need for that time.
But, there comes a time when hiding no longer serves the higher good for me. My need for safety which does serve me well also inhibits, refrains, this deep calling that burns inside me and aches for release. It also inhibits me in my relationships and developing new ones, more specifically in love and work co-collaborators.
The last paragraph in this MLK quote makes me see that in my perceived sense of safety, at this point, I choose an internal death.
I cannot live like that, but I also do not know how to reconcile this calling for truth and justice with paralyzing fear and need for safety because the idea of being literally beaten and assaulted again mitigates me. I live with PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks so it’s very real.
My biggest lesson in this has been learning self care, compassion, and patience but also tenacity, perseverance, and strength.
On the upside, I am fully conscious of what currently holds me back, and I can observe it and no longer make it a part of my identity like I have for a long time. That evolution I feel good about. The work now is to figure out how to move forward because I have work to do. At The Flexi 21, my boss is Mother Nature, and I have signed up to be of service for the higher good of all.
If you are feeling this too, and it has stopped you, held you back, I so get it. If you have been able to find a way to move forward, first bravo! and I would love to hear how you did it, how you manage.
From MLK Jr, “But If Not…”
“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.
You died when you refused to stand up for right. You died when you refused to stand up for truth. You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”