What are you doing for others today?

Unlike most American holidays where people head out of town for a long weekend or perhaps just laze about the house, the day set aside each year to remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth is one that focuses on contributing service to the community.

According to the website mlkday.gov, "Dr. King believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live - creating the Beloved Community."

In some respects we have made strides in creating that Beloved Community that King spoke of. In other ways, however, we are more divided than ever.

Our diversity as a nation is one of our greatest strengths, but it is also one of the things that continually holds us back. When we utilize our differences as a basis for hate or division, it reduces our ability to move forward and realize our full potential. When we embrace our differences and see them as opportunities to expand our own knowledge and open windows to new opportunities that we might not otherwise have considered, we can experience benefits beyond our imagination.

According to the mlkday.gov website, "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. That service may meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit. On this day, Americans of every age and background celebrate Dr. King through service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals, bridge barriers, and create solutions."

We can do the most good today by getting out in our communities and lending ourselves to help with immediate social problems and shortfalls that keep all of us from realizing our full potential.

But we can also honor the spirit of the day by opening our arms and our minds to embrace the diversity that is rooted in our country, and with recognition that it is this diversity that has made this country great.

In short, we all play a role in helping to achieve the Beloved Community that King envisioned.