Over the course of MLK weekend I saw two movies that inspired me and reminded me once again of the fortitude and resilience of the human spirit. Both movies--Patriot’s Day and Hidden Figures-- were based on true events. The people portrayed demonstrated integrity, honor, and love through their actions, words, and way of life.
“Patriot’s Day” centers on the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the victims and first responders involved. The movie takes the viewers through the attack and the ensuing week as the manhunt continues for the two suspects. First responders worked tirelessly to serve the needs of the hurt and wounded and to protect the citizens of Boston and the surrounding areas. Police officers, firefighters, EMT’s, ambulance drivers, doctors, nurses, surgeons, and friends and neighbors pulled together to protect, serve, care for, and comfort. The bombings were committed by two men who were filled with hate and wanted to harm, but the response by the community was one of love and light. The people who lost their limbs and went through numerous surgeries and years of rehabilitation, and who live to walk and even run marathons with artificial limbs are beacons of light and hope. What they endure daily with a positive attitude demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit.
"Hidden Figures" is about three incredibly bright and strong women who worked for NASA in the 1960’s. Not only were they brilliant as a mathematician, engineer, and a programmer, but they lived in segregated Virginia during the Civil Rights movement. They worked with honor and integrity even though they were deemed inferior by many of their co-workers and society in general. They remained true to themselves and their values and they fought without violence by using their minds and their skills to make a difference in the NASA program. I cannot begin to imagine or relate to what they went through in their lives to overcome the prejudice and hatred surrounding them. And yet they all persevered and used their intelligence and God given gifts to change the course of history.
I came away from both these movies inspired by everyday heroes. All the people portrayed in both movies were simply doing their everyday jobs to the best of their abilities. At the time they didn’t get recognition, nor did they demand it. They simply used their gifts and skills to help humanity.
We live in a broken, shattered, dark world. We can get overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. We can lose hope and get dragged into the sludge of despair. John writes in his letter to early Christians: “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all.”
If God is light, and God is in US, then there IS light in this dark world. There IS hope.
I am inspired by people who came before me and used their gifts, skills and talents to make an everyday difference in their everyday world.
Some received fame, but most did not. They simply lived out light and hope. Many people today are fearful about the changes to come in our nation and world, but I am choosing to remember those who have made a difference by loving and living in light. I will focus on those who persevered despite the darkest circumstances around them. Light overcomes darkness. Always.
Though the world may seem dark to you today, find hope in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
We have a long way to go, but he had hope and so do I.