“From whom much is given, much is required.” I heard it time and again as a young child in the civil-rights movement. I did not grow up in an affluent family, wealthy with money, but one that provided an abundance of insight about life and what is important in making a contribution to the world.
My mother always said that the first five years of a child's life were the most important. For me, those years truly were the foundation of my life experience and who I am today. I was taught about the concept of integrity, the importance of forgiveness and the ability to show love for others — not only those that we consider “family,” but the human race — and most of all, I was given the tools needed to be of service to the planet.
I shared these concepts with students at Casady School last week and reminded them of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobile rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity.”
I reminded them of the opportunities that they have been given and their responsibility to give back to society. Most of all, I told them of this year's theme for my column — “It's not about me!”
Part of history
I have been blessed. At age 7, I was given the opportunity to be a part of something that eventually became a part of history. I was one of the original sit-inners in Oklahoma City in 1958, one of 12 kids who walked into Katz Drug Store and politely asked to be served. I experienced things as a child that even adults found shocking and unacceptable.
Knowledge helped us prepare for this treatment.
You are probably wondering how to prepare for someone spitting on you, calling you names that today are considered politically incorrect, and how to accept harassment by people who did not know you and were just not ready for change, just because of the color of your skin. The sentiment was that it had always been this way, so why change now.
Clara Luper, Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council adviser, and people such as my mother, Mary Shaw Pogue, a part of what I call the “kitchen cabinet,” trained us on the concepts of nonviolence developed by Gandhi. They helped us understand the issues of inequity and social justice. The concepts were used by Dr. King and thousands of people across the country.
I was ready!
I knew what was required: education, determination, courage and, most of all, the willingness to work hard to ensure that every man, woman and child received what they were promised.
Now that you know what is required, your work in the community will not be a mere coincidence.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is yet to come. The best is right now! Honor it. Embrace it. Live it.