Written by Haben Tewelde, volunteer contributor
It has been nearly half a century since the untimely death of Martin Luther King Jr., and now with MLK day around the corner, American Red Cross workers are taking time to celebrate the life of Dr. King. On the 21st, we honor the man who is arguably responsible for initiating the much-needed shift in our cultural understanding and acceptance of the word equality. King’s desire to end discrimination and unify this nation distinctively coincides with five of the International Red Cross Seven Fundamental Principles, which are Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity, and Universality. Dr. King described human progress as “neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” This is a fact that we as members of the American Red Cross know too well as we strive daily to make this world a better place, similar to the endeavors of Dr. King.
As America moves closer with each era to a more naturally inclusive society, and since our mostly unified predisposed inclinations are to avoid even the slightest act of bigotry or prejudice, it may be easy for us to only appreciate this day for the time off from work or school. However, we must not forget that MLK day is a time for us to reflect on our nation’s history, and be grateful of the fact that America is now more unified than ever before. Today is a chance to celebrate our understanding and harmonious society while also paying tribute to the Americans who paved the way for how we live and think today. We as a nation united in our unrelenting belief in justice, and we have come a long way from the days when inequality was accepted, and even institutionalized with the intention of keeping minorities and women away from the blessings of this great nation. MLK day allows us to look back at our history from a perspective unlike any other national holiday.
I am proud to be a volunteer at the Red Cross, where we are happy to commend the works Martin Luther King Jr. performed, as he was one of the first in our society to step up against the tyranny of inequality, and he initiated a much-needed shift in the way we think about, and interact with each other. People of all ages should bear in mind that Dr. King may very well be one of the reasons you, as the fundamental part of American culture, have a common acceptance of equality, and, by virtue, true justice. As American Red Cross workers, we honor MLK’s life and work every day by answering and striving for what he describes as “life’s most persistent and urgent question, What are you doing for others?”
To live the Seven Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross as a donor or to begin your Red Cross volunteer story, join us at redcross.org.