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1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]


The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Jan 18, 2014

JenniferFischer“I have decided to go with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

King’s birthday was Jan. 15, and this coming Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While King’s “I Have A Dream” speech is most often recited and shared around this time of year, the quote above has stood out for me, given my selection of “compassion” as my guiding word for 2014 (thanks Mama Scout).

Sometimes it is easy to choose love. With our friends and our family, love is often easy.

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the value of love as something given universally, something accessible to all. I’ve been contemplating what would happen if compassion were all-encompassing and no one was excluded.

When I think of that, I see the challenge.

What would happen if I am able to love my enemy, so to speak?

I don’t really have any enemies, and I think few of us do. But there have been individuals in my life who have hurt me deeply, and there are individuals whose actions or beliefs are appalling to me. What if I learn to love them? What happens when I decide their pain matters and they deserve compassion, rather than thinking they deserve any pain they experience?

When King asserts his decision to go with love and lay down hate, he challenges everyone else to do the same.

But pay attention. He is also letting us in on a secret: Hate is a burden. Anger is a burden. Both consume so much time and energy. In the end, not only does the object of our anger suffer, but we also suffer.

King showed what is possible through the power of love. His bold, loving example is something we need more of in the world and is something I mourn that our nation lost too soon – which is all the more reason to stop this weekend and remember what King gave us and to honor that memory with action.

He showed us what is possible. It is possible to have compassion for one’s enemies. It is possible to act kindly and lovingly to those who have hurt us, to those who hate us.

Soon on my blog, I’ll be sharing the details of a project I’m doing in February: 14 Days of Loving-Kindness. The idea is to focus on showing loving and kindness to others every day for the first 14 days of February. Who those people are will vary each day.

For one of those days, I am challenging myself to engage in an act of loving and kindness for someone who has hurt me deeply. I have not yet decided who that will be. I do know I might choose to do the act anonymously. The point is not for that person to know I did something kind for him or her. The point is for me to bring myself a step closer to choosing love and laying down the burden of hate, of anger, of pain.

Forgiveness can be an act of kindness and will certainly be an important first step. I hope I can move a few steps farther and truly extend loving and kindness to “my enemy.”

Perhaps this weekend, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., you too will choose love. Look around you and find that opportunity to help someone, to serve your community, to make amends, to say a kind word or send a sweet note.

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Incidentally, Martin Luther King Jr. Day has become a National Day of Service. For ideas of ways to serve here in Santa Clarita, grab the January edition of the Magazine of Santa Clarita, which features the wish lists of various local nonprofits. There you’ll find lots of ways that you can get involved and give back.

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

 

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