Give Aspen some of MLK Jr.’s style |

Give Aspen some of MLK Jr.’s style

As a southerner living in Aspen, I find it particularly apparent as we honor Martin Luther King Jr., Day.

I am from a long line of outspoken public servants. My father was a Marine in the Korean War, as well as an attorney for 41 years and a North Carolina state legislator, as was my grandfather. My great-grandfather was a North Carolina state senator, superintendent of North Carolina public schools and a chancellor of North Carolina State University. My maternal grandfather was a respected small-town doctor during the Depression when no one had anything except their word. He delivered all the babies in their homes, black and white. My mother and grandmothers on both sides all contributed in their own right as nurses and teachers to the greater good of their communities, without asking for much in return.

Also, many of my family members died as Confederate soldiers, which is something I have mixed feelings about. These men performed their duty and died for their cause, however we might view it now, yet we all easily forget how we reap the rewards of their efforts and many men and women like them, like Martin Luther King Jr., who died for their causes along the way.

So, please excuse me if I offend, but I have always been encouraged to speak my mind.

I read the local papers and have noticed the constant referrals to how Aspen has changed and how different it is today, and generally, how things just aren’t what they used to be.

I have read the criticism from successful local developers and businessmen toward others seeking their own success and right in free enterprise. We all must realize that just as sure as we are all going to die, things are going to change. I think we must be careful of our causes and their reflections on us and where we call home. It appears to me that the basic sentiment and motivation is, “God forbid someone else have more, have better success than me.” Is this what Aspen has become?

It’s obvious. Look around you. You’re in Aspen! Life is good. We are free and happy, and better off than over 99 percent of the world’s population. What exactly does that mean to you in respect to what we are celebrating on Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

To me, it means that we should let go of the pettiness and the unconsciousness and figure out how to contribute to real causes, in real ways, like environmentalism, global climate and species change, energy self-sufficiency and optimum health and lifestyle.

Now, there’s a real opportunity for someone if they could go about it with some real thought and grace, as a way to contribute to a real cause worth fighting for, as so many, and Martin Luther King Jr. in particular, have laid the ground work. It’s not what we say or the words we write that really matter, it is HOW we go about doing something that resonates in history. It’s the real change we create for the right reasons. We are free and we are free to make our own choices. But, more than that, we are free to make choices that benefit others.

And, it’s undeniable that Martin Luther King Jr. had style. As we honor his legacy here in Aspen, perhaps we should give some thought to what he really stood for and why and how he made a real difference.

It has to do with integrity, decency and honoring ourselves as human beings. It has to do with the promise and connection we all have felt and seen at some point in our lives. That is the stuff real success is made of, no matter where you come from.

That’s what would give Aspen style, again. That’s what would make it even better, for everybody.

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