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Remembering Dr. King This Year

We Americans celebrate at least a dozen holidays each year. And while only Christmas seems to bring most business (and other activities) to a halt for at least part of a day, each holiday should repre...

We Americans celebrate at least a dozen holidays each year. And while only Christmas seems to bring most business (and other activities) to a halt for at least part of a day, each holiday should represent at least a heartbeat's pause for those of us celebrating to remember who and what the celebration is all about.

If it's worth celebrating, it should be worth knowing why we are celebrating. How can we better focus on celebrating those whose births, careers, or accomplishments, the day commemorates?This month, I wonder how many of us really think about Martin Luther King on his holiday? And if we do, are we really aware of what are we celebrating?On January 15th , we will celebrate a holiday that more than any other, asks us to stop and remember that opportunity in America is, indeed, for everyone. Certainly it recognizes a distinguished African-American. But the holiday is about opportunity. It's about the promise of America. Martin Luther King Day celebrates a man who died to strengthen the belief in the American Dream. In this year, of all years, we need to be mindful about the promise that is America, lest in forgetting, we lose something precious to us.

This year, we are 300 million Americans strong, and we represent about 4.6% of the world's population. Rich and poor, fat and skinny, white, black, brown, red and yellow. Americans make up the richest, mostly, self-sufficient market on the globe. Immigrants come here for opportunity, through largely "open doors," that some would close. Immigrants – and we were all immigrants at one time – come from every nation. Some speak of freedom and opportunity. Some speak of equality and opportunity. All speak of a better life and that is opportunity. Since 9/11, we have questioned how much to change our policies, whether to remain as open as in the past. We have become more restrictive, not just more careful. Is this a path that will best nurture those who have dreams of opportunity? Are we still willing to pay the price our patriots and our citizens at arms have had to pay to ensure our freedoms continue?Our self-sufficiency has made us strong; it has its dark side as well. At its worst, as before both World War I and World War II, it nurtures a dangerous "us-them" isolationist mentality that is unsustainable in today's global economy.

Once upon a time, I read about a merchant who didn't want to sell to a certain minority as his neighborhood changed. Their money was the same color as his but their skin wasn't. He discouraged them from coming into his store so they went elsewhere. This merchant was blind to opportunity, to learning and to growing. Some time later his store went broke, replaced by a store whose owners catered to everyone. Good humanity proved to be good business. Within 3 years, these new owners had three stores throughout the neighborhood.

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day isn't about black and white, or any other color, religious belief, or cultureComputer Technology Articles, for that matter. It's about opportunity – opportunity to become all that each of us can become. It's about seeing the "person" in each of us. We need this holiday. We need to be mindful of its purpose. It's good humanity and it's good business.

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John Reddish works with and speaks to leaders who want to master growth, transition and succession, helping them to get results faster, less painfully and in ways that work for them. Author, speaker, consultant and mentor, John is a member of NSA. For booking and product information: . Call 800.726.7985, internationally 01.610.388.9335, or at

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