I‘m no scholar. And it's a pretty bold thing for me to say that I know what Dr. King would have said about anything at any time. He was a brilliant man, and I mean no disrespect with the title of this post.
My observations of Dr. King's life, work, and words, some of which are depicted in today's Google Doodle shown here, do lend themselves to a few conclusions, however, and one of them is that, if Dr. King were alive today, he would have a thing or two to say about small and independent business owners. Here's how I think he'd put it:
- Write your own emancipation proclamation.
I come here tonight and plead with you. Believe in yourself and believe that you're somebody. … Nobody else can do this for us! No document can do this for us. No Lincolnian Emancipation Proclamation can do this for us. No Kennesonian or Johnsonian Civil Rights Bill can do this for us. If the Negro is to be free, he must move down into the inner resources of his own soul and sing with the pen and ink of self-assertive manhood his own Emancipation Proclamation.” (Watch the video where Dr. King spoke these words.)
These words give me chills. I think they reveal that despite the oppression he fought against, he believed strongly in the power of personal responsibility.
If you want economic freedom, you must specifically define and pursue it for yourself. Small and independent business owners across this nation are doing that.
- #OccupyYourHOmeOffice. “A man can't ride your back unless it's bent.” To me, this short sentence summarizes the strongest response to the “Fat Cats” on Wall Street. Yes, we can march and protest against their bad behavior, but why not also march for our own?
I don't see a one-for-one fair comparison to Dr. King's marches and #OccupyWallStreet protests. Dr. King marched for measurable outcomes, including specific laws that would make specific behavior illegal.
He did not march to say that what certain people did was wrong. He marched to empower people to do what was right, and not just in a general sense.
He was specific, and everyone could tell whether the movement was a success or a failure based on whether his specific and measurable goals were or were not achieved. Dr. King wasn't on the news taking up space and complaining about how others were treating him unfairly or were making it hard for him to make a living.
He didn't march to say, “Woe, is me … I am the poor 99%.”
He marched to say, “I am a man! I am the 1%, and I demand that you treat me that way, and here's exactly what I want you to do to make that happen, and nothing short of this will do, and I brought these millions of people with me to pursue the same specific outcome.”
I think Dr. King would tell each of us to stand up for what is right, be specific about it, and then go home and work day by day, moment by moment to better our own situations.
- Serve others. “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” When I look out across this nation today, I see small business owners in communities everywhere, who are focused not only on how much money they can make, but on how they can serve others by building their communities and contributing positively to the American economy. This is what #IndieMeetUp is all about.
In over a dozen cities, hundreds of people gathered physically and virtually to empower each other to succeed in small business. These men and women are answering the service question for themselves, and in so doing, are creating wealth on their own terms and paving the way for their children not ot have to rely on a traditional job to secure their future. That is service, to people alive today and to people who will be alive tomorrow.
I Mean No Disrespect
I hope no one is offended by my reference to #OccupyWallStreet (as some were in a prior post on the topic.) I mean no disrespect to the efforts that are being made to give a voice to people who are being ignored and disrespected by the establishment.
What I Do Mean
What I do mean is that, as we point out the flaws in others, we must also be honest about our own flaws, and then we must take it a step further.
We must specifically define what we want, and then pursue that. If we need the law to change to make that happen, then we pursue that too.
We must not allow ourselves to be victims of the despicable behavior of a few people.
We must be victors, using our talents and gifts — in community — to create the kind of lives we want.
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
I believe Dr. King would say these very words today if he were describing small and independent business owners across this nation.
You are laboring. You are uplifting. You are dignified. You are important. You are excellent.