1929. Martin Luther King Jr was born in 1929. And so it was, that in December of 1955, a 26-year-old helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Let that sink in. He was 26-years-old. He wasn’t 45. He wasn’t even 35. He was 26-years-old. And he changed the world.
I reflect on this a lot. In fact, it’s one of the things I talk with Echo about when we watch MLK videos every January. And the more I think about it, the more I believe that our school system is an utter failure at one thing above all else. There is one thing that is disregarded and ignored for sake of the SATs and preCalculus. We have stopped empowering and motivating youth to create change. We’ve stopped making them believe that they are good enough, smart enough, and capable of creating positive change. Right now.
The whole system is built on an idea of not-yet. This idea that you’re not good enough…yet. Maybe when you finish this next chapter, you’ll be ready. Go get your high school degree, maybe then. Nope, sorry. You must need a college degree. But I bet after that, you’ll be all set. And then after that, it’s your masters or your PhD.
Here’s a secret for you. At no point in your life will you ever get a letter in the mail telling you “Congratulations, you’re ready.” Ed McMahon will not be showing up at your doorstep with balloons to tell you that you’re good to go.
And you know what, good. Screw this system if it ever makes you feel like you’re not good enough. I don’t care if you’re 14, 24, or 84-years-old, what degree do you need to create change? What degree do you need to be a better person? To treat people right? To do the right thing? What degree do you need to see something that isn’t right, get up, and do something about it?
Nothing. You need nothing.
And please, this train of thought isn’t meant to shame anyone or make you feel guilty if you’re not actively battling for social change. It’s meant to empower. It fires me up and I hope it does you. It tells us that even if you don’t think you’re ready…you are.
I’m 38 with a wife, 2 kids, a dog, a house, and a job. And there are still days that I don’t think I have my stuff together. And I have to believe that Martin Luther King Jr wasn’t sure of anything either back then. He just woke up every morning and did the best he could and hoped that it would be good enough.
Take a moment and think back – when was the last time someone looked you square in the face and said “you’re ready for this” or “you’re good enough.” Has it ever happened? Well it should.
Cause it’s true. Know it.