Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Volunteer to Help Animals on MLK Day

Join millions of others in making this holiday "A day ON, not a day OFF"

During his lifetime, the great humanitarian and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. established an extraordinary legacy of peacefully pursuing freedom and equality for everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity. The foundation of his life's work was the twin pillars of non-violence and selfless service to others. As a leader of the people, he promoted the creation of mutually-supporting communities that could work together across a broad range of social justice issues to bring about progressive change.

To honor this great American hero, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act in 1994, officially designating January 15th as a national day of volunteer service. Every year, millions of people across the country celebrate and commemorate MLK's shining example by taking action with others to address social problems of all kinds. Of the King Day of Service, Dr. King's wife, Coretta Scott King, said "The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated this holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others."

Had Dr. King not been assassinated in 1968, he probably would have followed the compassionate example of Coretta and their oldest son Dexter, who both became vegan for ethical reasons. Dexter, a minister like his father, has been a vegan since 1988, and has called animal rights a "logical extension" of his father's commitment to non-violence. Coretta, who died in January 2006, said that her conversion to veganism in 1995 was "a blessing." Both saw animals as deserving of respect and liberty and made these values an integral part of their daily lives.

Animal advocates can help carry on and extend Dr. King's values by doing something to help animals on January 15th. Just as Dexter and Coretta Scott King clearly recognized that human and animal rights are interconnected, Dr. King would have agreed that brutally exploiting other species is just as wrong as holding a class of people down because of the color of their skin. As he so eloquently said in a watershed 1963 speech that continues to echo in the souls of caring people more than four decades later, "I have a dream that one day…the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood." Were he alive today, Dr. King might add to his dream the hope that one day the human race will end its enslavement of animals for food, clothing, entertainment and experimentation so that all sentient beings can be free to live in peace and harmony.

What You Can Do:

1) The King Day of Service is a wonderful opportunity to help make Dr. King's visionary dream a reality by showing others that respecting animals is a vital expression of the non-violent philosophy MLK stood for. Therefore, please take "A day ON, not a day OFF" on Monday, January 15th by volunteering to do something to help animals. Here are some ideas for activities:
- Bring vegan meals to homebound neighbors or to volunteers who are taking part in King Day of Service activities. Find a list of events scheduled for your area.
- Table or leaflet at a King Day of Service event or at a health fair, or even on a busy street corner in your area.
- Ask your local humane society or animal shelter what you can do to help them on January 15th and throughout the year.

2) If you volunteer or work for an animal protection organization, register to sponsor and organize a single service project or a series of projects to help animals on the King Day of Service.

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