Meeting Dr. Harding

On Thursday I had the honor of meeting Dr. Vincent Harding, a man who was good friends with and a speechwriter for Martin Luther King, Jr. He came to CSM to speak as part of our diversity week events. It was an honor not only because of the company he kept or the incredible things he has done, but just to have the opportunity to be in the presence of someone who so fully radiates peace and who, in just a couple of sentences, gave my brain a lot to chew on.

I spoke to him briefly while pinning on his lavalier mic and in that moment he helped me calm out of what had been a very hectic day. He did nothing remarkable. All he did was listen when I told him how I was doing. Really listen. I think we forget the value of listening to one another. So often conversation is spent thinking of the next thing to say, rather than truly paying attention to one another. That reminder of the value of listening to one another was the first thing I learned from Dr. Harding.

During his talk he touched on two things more that struck me. The first is the concept of "who are you waiting for?" He said that he often gets asked when he thinks we'll get another leader like Martin Luther King, Jr. and he always wants to ask people what is preventing them from becoming that leader. He said we need to free ourselves and realize that every one of us can be the leader to make positive change in this world. He challenged everyone to find the thing we are passionate about and to seek to make change on that issue within our part of the world. 

I've realized for me it is not only to act on the things about which I have a passion, but it is also to encourage my students to do the same. Through conversation and modeling I wish to create what Dr. Harding called a "wonderful disturbance" in my students. A wonderful disturbance makes something stir inside of you, making you assess yourself and calling you to action. 

This post is long, so soon I will write about the third thing I learned from Dr. Harding. But until then readers please tell me:
What things have caused a wonderful disturbance in you, and how are you acting upon them?