As many in America reflect on the teachings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week there will be talk of his selfless work, his incredible speeches, the social and political impact of his legacy, and how America would be viewed by him today.
Still a prominent voice cited in struggles for freedom, equality, and change through peaceful means, Dr. King has inspired millions of people, many of which weren't even born in his time. And if you look, you can still find the spirit of his teachings thriving in the selfless acts of people throughout the world. Here are a few examples from short films I created with Explore.org, a portal created to champion the selfless acts of others.
Take Wu Qing at the Development Center for Rural Women in China for instance. In a country often known for its male-centric authoritarian oppression, she gives her life to the notion that empowering women with the idea of equality, providing them out-of-home work skills, and instilling a sense of social responsibility will increase their feeling of self-worth and improve quality of life for everyone.
Echoes of Dr. King's courage and struggles to free people from the snares of social ills can be found in India's Rescue Foundation. In Mumbai, where thousands of young girls are kidnapped or sold against their will into the sex trade each year, people there provide a refuge for those that escape while working to discover and free imprisoned girls.
In the harsh climate of poverty, AIDS and violence in Ethiopia, one can see the courage, compassion and sacrifice required to save lives in the story of Mama Gobena. A woman of boundless love, she abandoned the life she knew to start an orphanage in Ethiopia. Starting with a child she rescued from the arms of a dead mother's body, her selfless dedication has changed the lives of thousands of children.
While Dr. King's vision of equal opportunity and a peaceful society may not be fully realized here in the U.S. or abroad, it doesn't take much looking around to find selfless, courageous people who would make him proud.