Our Opinion: On MLK Day, commit to service

Service is the focus of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observed today.

The observance marks “a perfect opportunity for Americans to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service,” according to the website, mlkday.gov, maintained by the Corporation for National and Community Service. “The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.”

The holiday was created in 1983, and designated by Congress in 1994 as a national day of service.

Service is a frequent topic, not only in this forum, but throughout the pages of the News Tribune. Volunteer opportunities are listed on a daily basis, news from service clubs and organizations is reported regularly, and community volunteers and their efforts often are featured.

Perhaps most uplifting about these stories is we are in no danger of running out of material.

Why are so many people motivated and attracted to serve other people and the community?

The website’s description provides some answers.

One motivation is action. “The MLK Day of Service is a way to transform Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems,” according to the site.

Another, and perhaps more compelling, attraction is spiritual. The site points out: “That service may meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit.”

Volunteers realize right away they cannot remain absorbed in their own problems while serving others.

Selflessness and selfishness are incompatible; service and satisfaction, however, are inseparable.

During today’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we encourage people to emulate his commitment and continue his legacy. Service is in no danger of running out of rewards.

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