Today, the day I’m writing this – and also hopefully the day I’ll finish this *and* get it posted to the library’s blog page, is both Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and while I am not in any way shape or form comparing the two, I can’t help mentioning that today would also have been Betty White’s 100th birthday.
We wrote a blog about Rev. King last year; you can find it here if you’re interested in some history: https://www.forthunterfreelibrary.com/post/celebrating-mlk-jr. The past year I have occasionally found myself wondering what Rev. King would think about, and more importantly, what would he be doing, in face of the unrest our country finds itself embroiled in. Again. Still.
I’m not the only one who has wondered that, and a journalist named Greg LaRose wrote an editorial for the Wisconsin Examiner entitled “What would MLK think about America in 2022?” In it, he states “On a day meant to bring people together, King would likely note that we couldn’t find ourselves farther apart. In his eyes, an amalgamated America would find its strength through its differences – cultural, philosophical and otherwise – and work together for the greater good.”
In August 1965, Rev. King delivered his “Birth of a New Age” speech in Buffalo, New York. In it, he implored us to think that “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” In a country where we can’t even get people to agree on wearing masks in public for the potential of a greater good, it seems we have a lot of work ahead of us.
Now, not to be heretical, I bring us to Betty White. Her kindness, humor, intelligence, and love of life, coupled with her longevity, made her a much different type of cultural icon than Rev. King, but one that is no less profound. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t rooting for her (unless maybe you don’t like animals; and if you don’t like animals you probably aren’t the type to read a library blog post anyway).
She brought us together in a completely non-political, non-partisan way. She made fun of herself and the world around us. She wasn’t afraid to take on challenges and she did what she wanted. She turned down an opportunity to host the Today Show in the 1970s, because “the way you live is more important than the job you do” – and hosting an early morning show wasn’t what she wanted.
Whether you take a moment today to reflect on Rev. King’s life or Betty White’s life, I hope that we all take a pause and think about our lives. What are we doing to help someone else? What are we doing to make our own lives better?
And I hope that 2022 is a kind and gentle year for all of us. No matter which side of an argument you fall on, we all deserve some peace.