By Nicole Snyder
The winter Olympics are now here. Watching the amazing athletes perform, I marvel at the capacity of the human body. The Olympics remind me how far talent, dedication and hard work can take an individual. The Olympics, however noble the accomplishment, celebrate the achievement of the one. It is an achievement in competition, with just a few winning, and most not reaching the podium.
This month also marks Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. If the Olympics excite the imagination of the individual’s capacity, Dr. King excited the imagination of the nation’s capacity. In his “Where Do We Go From Here?” speech, Dr. King, calls his listeners to be dissatisfied.
“Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort and the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. Let us be dissatisfied until those that live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family is living in a decent sanitary home.”
I worked in social services for seven years because I believe all individuals are marvelously and wondrously made. I toiled and worked for next to nothing because I believe in the capacity of the individual to rise above their circumstances. I have also come to see the necessity of national/cultural transformation. If society places arbitrary limits on the individual, then the individual’s capacity cannot be fully realized.
Dr. King faced the complexity of how to inspire a culture steeped in its tradition to reexamine itself and realize its greater potential. We no longer have legal discrimination, but I would dare to say we as a nation are still far removed from the America Dr. King dreamed of. I see myself as a Pastoral Counselor with a unique opportunity to work at the individual level and also collaborate with others to continuously improve the greater community in order to give each client the space to become their best.
As I reflect on what the Olympics and Dr. King’s life means to me, I am reminded by his speech “A Time to Break Silence” in which he says, “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered”.