It is my custom to spend some time on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday reading his words and listening to some of his speeches. So, yesterday I invested in those moments. As I have experienced in the past, I was captivated by the simplicity of his words and the deep impact of their meaning. And, I silently challenged myself to be more aware, more vocal, and more active in opposing discrimination in any form.
I also made my customary walk through social media and, as I expected, saw multiple posts featuring those same words from Dr. King, along with new thoughts posted about the challenges we still face and some of the victories that have been realized.
What I was not expecting was the prevalence of postings about an angry tirade from a professional football player the night before. His words:
I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like [49ers wide receiver Michael] Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me… Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.
– Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
Now, for you hardcore football enthusiasts out there, I understand that professional sports rewards men and women with gigantic egos and a leaning toward, shall we say, showmanship? In truth, Mr. Sherman might be the best corner in the game. I have no way of knowing. I’ve never heard of him.
News sources tell me that Mr. Sherman is a Stanford graduate who majored in communication. He is obviously an intelligent human being. And, yes, his antics are targeted to draw attention to his sport, to the big Super Bowl game, and to himself. Thus, Mr. Sherman has accomplished what he set out to do.
But what Mr. Sherman will never do is establish a legacy that the majority of people will see as valuable — at least, not at this rate. In fact, Mr. Sherman, despite the fact that his remarks will titillate and incite some fans, will never inspire greatness nor add to quality of life for more than one or two people. And one of those folks is obviously Mr. Sherman. Even then, the concept of “quality” is a little cloudy in that context.
Despite the fact that Mr. Sherman’s behavior will probably sell tickets and Super Bowl paraphernalia, nothing that comes from it will be of any true value.
As I read far different words yesterday, I was drawn strongly to this particular quote:
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Altruism is simply the unselfish desire to pursue good things for other people. Imagine a life where you spend your waking hours dreaming of ways that the lives of others could be better. Imagine a life where you take your dreams and convert them to vision. Imagine a life where your vision is lifted beyond self and that vision energizes you to make this world a better place.
If that’s the life you imagine, you are among the very best.