Caring, maybe that’s what we should think about most in this week of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. The holiday was Monday. It was a day off work for some, while others worked harder than usual with more people dining out and shopping on a weekday. We should care that many of those workers are supporting themselves or families for low pay and few or no benefits.
I believe there’s a limit to what government fairly and efficiently force on things like wages in an economy, but there is no limit on how those in ownership or management can approach fairness in voluntarily sharing the benefits of America’s economic wealth.
Many problems in this world are so huge it’s easy not to care because they seem unsolvable.
We can’t, as individuals living in Platte County, go into remote African areas where terrorists are killing, kidnapping and raping innocent children, women and men. But we should care.
We should not become numb to the atrocity lest we not be supportive of efforts to find fixes. You can bet our tax dollars are supporting some of our neighbors who serve at Fort Leavenworth and are looking for or planning help for these problems. We are not totally isolated from the world.
Martin Luther King Jr. changed America with his civil rights leadership, but his messages of peace, justice and equality resonate beyond. Caring gives the messages with principle more power.
Platte County has seen people march off to war for principles, both for and against equality and justice for all. A century and a half ago, the Civil War had bloodied and drained the county. People died for their principles.
We should care about the immensity of sacrifice that came before better times that we enjoy now.
We cannot fix problems that racism and inequality begat in the older neighborhoods of Kansas City south of the Missouri River, such as a long-struggling school district. But to not care at all, to not have empathy, creates more coldness in this world that helps those problems endure.
As I now work in my day job all over the metro area and western Missouri, I come more to believe that apathy towards problems elsewhere in the city helps trouble linger.
Many things link the future of all neighborhoods.
We are not totally unfeeling. The terrorist killings of cartoonists and journalists in France hit many hard. But also in the Kansas City Star recently, only one short paragraph, was news of a blogger being flogged in the Middle East because of his words.
The world doesn’t care as much about him because he’s not in the center of our modern-day news approach, but we should care enough to shudder a bit at barbaric practices and be resolved here for tolerance and our Constitutional right to freedom of speech.
In our community, I’ve noticed through the years as a journalist that a relatively small number of people make the biggest differences in quality of life. They plan events; they serve charities and non-profit groups; they take on complicated and hassle-filled civic duties on committees and commissions.
They care, and thus they make things better for all. I hope more young people care enough to emulate them.
Martin Luther King Jr. dared to ask the world to care enough to change. The holiday bearing his name honors change. Our challenge is to bring more change for the better, and pausing a moment to care is the first step.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.