Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr– Being the Best Street Sweeper I Can Be

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. A day to remember one of the most inspirational people in history. A motivational minister. An encouraging activist. A remarkable speaker. A hero we can all look up to.

Art by Chris Beaven

Dr. King was a skilled speaker, a true master of words. Even today, researching for this post, and coming across videos of his speeches, I had goosebumps. Dr. King has shared many inspiring quotes.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

But it has to be what is famously called “The Street Sweeper” or “What is Your Life’s Blueprint” that has had the biggest impact on me.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.

If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. But be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., October 1967

What beautiful and inspiring words. Be the best of whatever you are. Even if you are a street sweeper.

Being a street sweeper is not a glamorous job, and most of us probably don’t even noticed if this is even a job for people anymore. (It is, I looked it up– but most street sweepers drive a sweeper truck these days)

And that’s exactly Dr. King’s point. If you are a street sweeper, be so good that people who never notice the streets being swept in the past can’t help but notice how beautiful their street looks. Make it as beautiful as Beethoven’s music, and as remarkable as Shakespeare.

But then, Dr. King takes it further and blows me away. If I can’t be exactly what I want to be, then do what you CAN, but be the best of what you can. I’m reminded of the Hummingbird (at this point, please tell me you’ve seen this– if not, here’s a link to my Zoo-notable). When everyone else is acting downtrodden about their lot in life, be the one who is making a difference, doing what they can, and shining as brightly as the stars in the sky.

Today, I will be a street sweeper. I will be the best I can be, and show others how we can make a difference in the world.

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