Letter writing has pretty much become obsolete. There are very few who have the attention span to sit and write a real letter. I am one of them, although it has required me to train my brain to focus and have the patience to write for long periods. It’s amazing to think that this obsoletion has taken place in the last twenty years or so. I mean, I’m only 35 and as a 12 year old I was writing letters to pen pals in countries like Italy and France.
Since modern technology has taken over, we have lost a sense of self that can always be found in writing. Whether it is a simple journal entry a day, or a letter to a loved one away, or a card to a parent on their birthday, we not only leave a piece of ourselves with those words we use/used, but we open ourselves up to learning about who we are over time.
When I look back at some of the greatest leaders of our time, they utilized two tools outside of their physical voices and bodies – pens and paper. They drafted speeches and wrote endlessly as a way of being heard and communicating with not just their followers, but their dissenters, their governments and their loved ones. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great example of a leader who used writing as a strength and to his advantage.
I originally wanted to share a letter of his on this blog, as part of a new series where I will feature a notable letter on major holidays and/or days of celebration in our Country and in American history, but kept coming up with only the infamous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” – which is a must read for anyone and I mean everyone who is interested in social justice and race relations. I do not have the space to share that letter on this blog, so instead, I’d like to direct you to “The Archive” on “The King Center” website.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of letters in the archive. They are all worth looking at and reflecting on. Not every letter is a bold statement. Many letters were acts of kindness and compassion and gratitude. Many were letters from normal every day individuals seeking his help. Many were letters of threat and violence. Yet, through all these different letters, you get to see the intelligence and integrity of this man. He is no longer alive, but his letters carry his voice and his dreams and his goals to all of us.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. It is a holiday. It is a day that some reserve for acts of volunteerism. It is a day where some people have to work. It is a day where for some, it is completely lost on them the significance of the man and his work. It is a day where for many, it is a day of hope and reflection.
As we step further in 2016 and look to change and to how we can stop the violence in our communities, among each other, among our “enemies,” and in our government, we owe it to Dr. King, to read his words and write our own letters of change. Write them to your Mom, your local Police Station, your Governor, your Mayor, your local Environmental Commission, your Congressman, your Senator, your President, your best friend, your cousin. Who ever. Just write your letter of change. It doesn’t have to be long. It could be a letter of thanks. You never know, until you stop the racing brain and calmly write your hopes, fears, and intentions down. Maybe you’ll inspire someone and maybe action will transpire. Maybe it will be part of an archive one day, too.