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Heavier lifting than sports today

Friday afternoon is my deadline for filing these columns. Often, as was the case this week, I'm cut some slack; given an extension until sometime on Saturday (and occasionally Sunday). Because, doing these more or less as an enjoyable exercise, for what I call my "Chipotle money" on the side, I don't sit to write a column until my work week is more or less over.

Filing on Friday, or sitting on Saturday, to write something that will be published a few days later, often means I have to pick a topic that may or may not be timely; or, I have to look forward to what may be of-moment on Mondays. (You'll notice, I've never written about the score of a game that was played on Sunday.)

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This week, I was ready to mail-one-in, literally and figuratively. I'd written half of a column having fun commenting on the fad of fasting and the nouveau a-go-go of starting off the new year on strict, albeit temporary diets, and a rededication to getting in shape; often equally as temporary. It wasn't bad.

But, then I realized that Monday, today, is a day of significance; a day commemorating the birthday of a man whose indefatigable commitment to the just and right cause of equality during a time of wrongfully-persistent injustice, and his unwavering insistence on achieving that equality and justice via non-violent means in the face of physical manifestations and violent actions quite the opposite, should be celebrated and recognized perhaps more than it is.

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So, a little fun with words about your fad diet, your weight, and the certified-in-a-weekend trainer that insists that doing burpees, bodyweight squats, box jumps, etc. is not actually doing "cardio" (because, you know, you're not running or elypticalling, or stair-climbing; and, ignoring for now that the results of said burpeeing, etc., have the same heart-rate elevating cause, effect and result as running and the like) will have to wait.

Instead, today, I guess I've chosen to take up a more timely task; to do a little heavier lifting. I urge you to pause today and reread the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Because of word limits and special limitations, what follows are some of the highlights from his most iconic speech.

From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King famously orated:

"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity…

"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the 'unalienable Rights' of 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.' …

"But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. …

"We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. ..."

Matt Laczkowski, a coach and former Division I men's basketball player, writes a Monday sports column for the Times. Reach him at 410-857-7896 or coach@with-character.com.

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