“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” —Martin Luther King Jr
In the early 60’s, it appeared that the civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King Jr. had hit a wall. President Kennedy appointed his younger brother, Robert Kennedy as the U.S. attorney general and he was famously disinterested in helping the movement or King’s supporters.
At a meeting one night, King’s team was feeling dismayed and at their wits end. After hearing enough despair, King slammed his hand down and told everyone to stop. “Is there nobody here who’s got something good to say about Bobby Kennedy?“ Everybody was dumbfounded at the question and still couldn’t say anything good about him. To this King replied:
”Well, then, let’s call this meeting closed. We will re-adjourn when somebody has found one thing redeeming to say about Bobby Kennedy, because that, my friends, is the door through which our movement will pass.“
This ended up being just one of many small moments that showed why Martin Luther King was destined to become one of history’s most charismatic and effective leaders. Instead of wanting to hear the negatives, he was only interested in the positives because he knew that would be the key to getting to Bobby Kennedy. And that’s just what happened, as he turned Bobby Kennedy into an advocate who played a significant role in helping to end Jim Crow laws with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The more I come to learn about history and the world today, the more I put weight on the side of seeing situations and people with love instead of hate. It’s easy to become defensive, angry and bitter at people for what they say or do, but I’ve found I tend to make greater gains when I see people as allies, when I choose to forgive or not hold a grudge. Now I don’t suggest you forget the negatives, but by shining a light on the positives, you’re likely to make greater gains in the long run.
🍺 to a great week ahead!