I was near the emergency ward of a hospital to claim my laboratory results when an ambulance came rushing in, carrying two victims of a vehicular accident, both of them seriously wounded and unconscious. From there I thought, should these things happen, who will the hospital attendants respond to, if both patients are in danger, both in need of immediate care, and both cannot wait, does the hospital have enough resources and capability to respond to such situations? Such reflections immediately come to mind when I read about Dr. Martin Luther King’s idea on the myth of time. Undoubtedly, he is right when he says, We Can’t Wait (2000) when dealing with problems in our country. . The attitude of waiting for time to come when all things will be good and beautiful is basically an old Christian tradition. Priests in the earlier times usually advise people to beg for God’s mercy and wait for His providence. In contrast, King tells us that while hunger and suffering persist in the land, we cannot just wait until someone, like the government, finally decides to help us alleviate our sufferings.
Applying this in broader terms, we realize that given the everyday struggle that Somali children face each day, we simply cannot wait for when donors will schedule sending relief goods. We need to act right away. Similarly, when we see people lying cold on the streets, we do not think of rallying in front of the senate the next morning to fight for their equal rights, we do not go to the social welfare to refer these people for help. While these actions could help the majority of the needy in the long run, these would take too much time, and before the government agency responds, the person would already be ill or dead.
The challenge that Dr. King imposes in his article is timeless. It is addressed not only to the government, to civil rights organizations, or to wealthy businessmen. Rather, it is addressed to everyone, to all of us, regardless of race, gender, age, religion or economic status. This challenge requires only one thing, that is, to respond to the problem at hand, right away, right on time. Responding to this challenge, we give immediate help to those in need. To those feeling cold on the streets, we give out our jacket, old sheets, shirt, etc. Likewise, to those who are hungry, we provide some food and water.
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These things are not difficult, especially since we do not consume everything we have on our plate. When we eat, we always have some leftovers which we put inside the refrigerator, and most often, we forget about them so they still end up in the trash bin the next day. Moreover, reflecting on this challenge in the education area, teachers cannot take too much time before they respond to the needs of their students. In the classroom setting, they take responsibility over the needs of their students, and not wait for the school’s recommendations.
Likewise, on a personal level, students extend help to others who are in need, and avoid feeling indifferent to the needs of their schoolmates. In sum, the challenge that Dr. King imposes on each of us requires our efforts to lift a finger and be good Samaritans to others. In addition, it also asks us not to discriminate, but rather help those in need regardless of their culture or origins. If we can exercise this in our everyday life, there will be less suffering. Therefore, the next time we encounter people needing our help, we should bear in mind the words of Dr. King, “We (simply) can’t wait. ”
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