Monday, September 12, 2011


According to the dictionary, resilience is the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Until my current work in the field of behavioral health, I wasn't familiar with the term. I knew what the word meant, but did not reference it in conversation or in my writing. Now, I feel like I talk about it all the time -- the importance of being resilient, or admiring the resilience of others. To face obstacles and overcome them is resilience. To experience life-altering events and moments and chose not to live as a victim is resilience. Every day, we are surrounded by resilient people without even recognizing or appreciating their ability to recover and adjust to life's trials.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last speech on April 3,1968 at Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters) in Memphis, Tennessee. The next day, he was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his motel room. No stranger to death threats, King knew that he wasn't destined to live a long life. Some even suggest that as he delivered his final address that he knew it would be his last one.

After watching the video and listening to the words of his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech he delivered that night, I tend to agree. However, what is also clear is that King believed in resilience. He knew that whatever happen to him and/or other civil rights movement leaders, that his followers must be resilient and the movement must recover from his death and keep moving forward. To do this, he shared his premonition with the congregation. He told them how he had seen the future and the world the movement had created flowing with justice, humanity and equality. He assured us that while he may not get there with us, we must be resilient and soldier on, advocating for the voiceless and bringing about a more humane world.

Now that the 9/11 10th anniversary has passed, you might be thinking what's changed ten years later? What do we do now? We must continue to be resilient. Resilience is programmed into our DNA. We just need to activate it by creating a goal and start working towards it. Thankfully, we live in a world where there are people, resources and supports to help us on our road to recovery. I've mentioned Lao-Tzu's quote "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Step after step, let's keep moving on the road of recovery and resilience.

Ending of King's I've Been to the Mountaintop" Speech:

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Also enjoy singer Patty Griffin's song, "Up to the Mountain (MLK Tribute)" which was inspired by the themes of King's last speech:

No comments:

Post a Comment