Friday, April 04, 2008

Martin Luther King Jnr on Work and Vocation

In one of the hundreds of articles today commemorating the life and death of Dr King, Chris Droessler posted this statement and adds his comments:

In a speech that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered six months before he was assassinated, to a group of students at Barrat Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967, he said these things about work and vocation:

“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’”

“If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill,
be a shrub in the valley.
Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.”

“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail.
If you can’t be a sun, be a star.
For it isn’t by size that you win or fail.
Be the best of whatever you are.”

Dr. Martin Luther King understood that all jobs have worth. We don’t all need to go to college and get a desk job to feel like we are worth something. Even the jobs that require little skill are important to our society, and those employed in them need to feel good about what they do.

Source (with thanks) : ‘Martin Luther King Jnr Understood’, ACTE, 4 April 2008.

Image: Dr King.