Martin Luther King Jnr once said “A man who wont die for something doesn’t deserve to live”.
Does that make the man prepared to die rather than not have his morning coffee, the same as the man who would die to protect his children? Does it make the man acting as a suicide bomber under the beliefs he holds, the same as the man who throws himself on a grenade to save his friend?
MLK Jnr wasn’t right in his comment, but nor was he wrong. We all admire the man prepared to die for his cause – we just don’t want that man to be us.
So the relevant question is, what happens when it is us?
Do we step up the mark, or do we back away into a dark corner and hide?
Both are valid options. However when this idea is broadened, from the scope of dying for something, to making decisions in life, it starts to become a different question. When you change the lens you see it through, instead of the question looking like “what are you prepared to die for?”, the question could become something more like “what are you passionate about?”, “what do you think needs to change?”, “are you prepared to stand up for what you believe in?” The concept broadens even further, into the decisions you make in your everyday life, and what they say about who you really are as a person. And so the question is less, “what would you die for?”, and becomes “what’s the stuff you’re made up of?”
Personally, I think that quintessentially, it really narrows down to what kind of person you are. Are you the kind of person who goes back and complains that there’s too much froth in your ‘flat’ white? Are you the kind of person that signs a petition without really reading what it’s about? Are you the kind of person that think’s you’re well informed because you watch the new whilst making dinner? Are you the kind of person that seeks out injustice and aims to correct it? Are you the kind of person who actively wants to make the world a better place, or just someone who likes the idea of it as long as you don’t have to leave your comfort zone?
I’m just as human as everyone else and am guilty of a lot of those things. I sign the online petitions because I know I agree with the cause, but I don’t read it properly. I agree to the terms and conditions of things without looking at the page past locating the ‘yes’ button. I like to think that I’m informed because I read a variety of news sources from all over the world with different agendas – but how much does that mean I really know?
I walk and use public transport, I pick up liter and I advocate human rights, equality, justice, and just general kindness for other people, in my everyday life. But does that mean I’m making a difference?
Going back to the question, what kind of person you are – I don’t know.
I don’t know who I am and I don’t know who I want to be. I don’t know who I’m likely to become and I don’t know who I’ll never be.
What I do know, is that I’m the kind of person who takes their flat white with too much froth, with only a little grumble to myself, because there’s a voice in my head telling me that it doesn’t matter; that there are bigger battles to fight; bigger wars to win.
So my question to you is, are you prepared to fight with me?