Self-Evident, but not Self-Executing

I’m not much of a nap person, never have been. But if you wanted to put money on a fairly good proposition, bet that I will take a nap on the afternoon of Martin Luther King Day.

For the last several years, I have co-chaired the service projects at the Unitarian Society of Germantown with my friend the Rev. Kent Matthies. This year we had more than 25 projects and more than 550 volunteers involved in the good work of celebrating Dr. King’s legacy. People made food for those who are hungry, they pulled together winter weather kits to help those who lack a warm and safe home, and cared for people and places that could use it (I’ve included some photos). It’s one of those days in every year that leaves you thinking that yes, we all really do value the same things, and want to see a world where everyone is celebrated, protected, and valued.

And this year, it was doubly meaningful with the second inauguration of President Obama. The church, at some expense and with a great deal of effort, managed to livestream the inaugural address into the sanctuary, where people could sit and watch after completing their service projects. About 100 made it back in time to catch the President’s speech. It was awesome to not be alone, watching at home, as the president spoke to a huge crowd in Washington. It made the event communal. I don’t write much about politics here, but I was heartened by the way President Obama sketched out a graph in which the arc of moral progress stretched from our Founding Fathers through Dr. King to today. And it left me thinking: Where am I am on that arc? How do I keep myself in touch with it?

And I guess the answer is a bit like our rights, which the president explained:

History tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing.

The way for me to stay connected to the arc of progress is to keep moving, keep stretching, keep exhausting myself in connection with the world that is and pursuit of the world that could be.

So I guess I’ll keep napping away the late afternoon on Martin Luther King Day. The photos:

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