Impact // Culture

Life's Most Persistent and Urgent Question

An article by Greg Lehmkuhl, President and CEO

January 18, 2021

Since becoming a federal holiday in 1986, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has not only served as an opportunity to honor the life and achievements of a storied man and inspirational civil rights leader, but also as a moment to selflessly reflect on our commitment to making our world a better, more just place.

Dr. King once wrote, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Reading those words today, particularly in the context of the year we just lived through, it is as important a question to ask ourselves today as it was when he posed it to his eager audience in Montgomery, Alabama in 1957. 

Certainly, our Lineage family does so much to help others – most recently donating over 100 million meals to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic via our Share a Meal campaign – and I continue to be in awe of this team’s compassion and determination to make a positive, lasting impact on the communities in which we live and work.

Moreover, at a time when the ideals of justice and equality are still not a reality for many, we must continue to embrace Dr. King’s message that change only happens when we come together to ensure that none of us walk alone – and that we are unified not just as a country, but as a human race.

Sitting down to write this message, I started to think about what Dr. King might have thought of the state of our nation today. The unfathomable racial and social injustices, as well as the violence and rioting that marred our country in 2020 are real, painful threats to the democracy Dr. King envisioned and championed for all Americans.

I imagine he might turn to his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” from 1963, in which he wrote, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

In other words, with Wednesday’s Presidential Inauguration upon us and the threats of nationwide civil unrest that surround it, we should heed Dr. King’s words to unify and heal as a nation – and we can start right here at Lineage.

At Lineage, each and every day we strive to live our values of trust and respect. We strive to create a family and a community where everyone – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation – is heard and respected. And we strive to ensure equality of opportunity, where everyone has an opportunity to grow, advance and succeed. 

On this day, I encourage each of you to honor Dr. King by reflecting on his fights, his struggles and his extraordinary accomplishments as a unifier – we, as Americans, need that unity now more than ever.

In closing, I’ll return to Dr. King’s poignant question: What are you doing for others? What can you do in your homes and in your communities to honor Dr. King’s memory?

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.