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Episode 103: Hope Is Invented Every Day

Spread the Ozark love

A Tribute To Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

IANWA - 103 - Hope is Invented Every Day

TZL Open [0:11] It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you are considering a move to this area or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we have got something special for you. Here's our host, Randy Wilburn.

Randy Wilburn [0:42] Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. We are doing something a little different today. We are doing the podcast on our live stream here on Facebook Live for I am Northwest Arkansas. So, if you're a member of the I am Northwest Arkansas community, you are seeing this right now. If you are not, and you are listening to this via podcast, you need to like us on Facebook at I am Northwest Arkansas, and you can get posts like these whenever they come up. But I wanted to do something different today. Of course, we know this is Dr. Martin Luther King Day in the United States. And for those of us that are celebrating, I would hope everybody is, but I just wanted to share something a little different today on the podcast. I have always had a desire to do what's right for Randy and what's right for my fellow man. And so, this particular episode is something along those lines, meaning that I want to be true to myself, true to who I am as an African American man in the United States, and I wanted to be true to the message that I'm trying to convey in everything that I do. What I'm going to share with you today resonated with me, and as so many of us are looking for ways to set ourselves apart today to reflect on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King and the difference that he made in this country, not just for African Americans but for everyone. Dr. Martin Luther King, while he was fighting civil rights, he was actually fighting for all of our rights. You only have to read his messages, his sermons, his books to have a clear understanding of who he is about. Just listen to, or read anything from letters from a Birmingham jail, or, of course, his famous I've Been to the Mountaintop Speech.’ Everything about Dr. King resonated with me, and with my family, for that matter, so I just figured I would share something today that might give you a little bit of hope and encouragement. And I don't know about you, but I need a little hope right now, as I'm sure some of us do. But I just wanted to share a letter. It's an article that a friend of mine wrote. His name is Damon Hart. Damon is an attorney with Liberty Mutual, a really great guy. None of that matters; the bottom line is he's just a very close friend of mine and somebody I care about. He wrote this article last week that really moved me and I reached out and said, I want to share this article on my podcast. I hope you don't mind. And he was like, absolutely, go for it. So, I'm excited to share this article that he wrote, and I will put it in the Show Notes, so you have a copy of it. But it spoke to me because I've been reading James Baldwin's Price of the Ticket during the pandemic. And, of course, the book is as thick as a baby's head, but I highly recommend it. If you like good literature and you like Baldwin, definitely worth a read. But anyway, Damon shared this particular article that he wrote, which was motivated by things he had read from James Baldwin. And so, I wanted to share this story. It's called, ‘Hope is Invented Every Day,’ and for those who are visually watching this, I'm going to share a little bit of a slideshow with you, and I hope you guys like it. Let me know what you think.

Hope is Invented Every Day. Over the course of this past year, I have developed a greater appreciation for the writings of James Baldwin. I have read a number of his books and essays, which seemed like they could have been written yesterday. Most recently, I came across this quote, Hope is Invented Every Day. In Princeton, Professor Eddie Glaude’s recent book, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. This statement is profound on its own, but I think it takes on a deeper meaning when you consider the context in which it was uttered. It's akin to the impact of understanding Dr. King's context for his 1963 letters from the Birmingham jail, from which comes the often quoted, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and justice too long delayed is justice denied.’ Dr. King penned this lofty resolute open letter on peace, justice and love from a narrow Southern jail cell in which King was placed following a peaceful march for civil rights on Good Friday in 1963. Baldwin survived three of his personal friends who were tragically murdered for their work towards civil rights in the span of five years. Medgar Evers in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.

As recounted in Glaude’s book, Baldwin had a tough time dealing with the loss of Dr. King, who he called America's apostle of love. In fact, Baldwin went into a deep depression and even attempted suicide after this traumatic event. It was in this context that Baldwin summoned his strength and courageously stated that hope is invented every day. Context is critical and the echo of this 1968 quote reverberates too today. Then, we were deeply involved in the Vietnam War, losing many soldiers in the tet offensive. We tragically lost Dr. King to an assassination in April and Bobby Kennedy in June of that year, and we experienced riots in every major city from coast to coast. Now, we have seemingly insurmountable political and social divides, a global pandemic, a struggling economy, and extremist enemies of the state, both foreign and domestic.

While acknowledging the hurts of the past and the troubles at hand, this quote recognizes that it takes a willful determination to be helpful. We must all manufacture it, cultivate it, and nurture it. Further, the nature of hope is fragile, and inventing it is a daily process. Last week's hope won't cut it. It may either grow stale or perhaps may even be erased by intervening bad news. So, on this weekend, and most importantly, this day, when we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his enduring legacy, despite the swirling winds of division that would seek to blow out the flame of hope, I encourage each of us to heed the words of his friend, James Baldwin, and summon the strength to invent hope every day. I don't know about you, but that really spoke to me. It literally jumped off the page when I read it. I sent Damon a message right away when I saw it. I had to read it several times because I am always optimistic about the future no matter what. And I think that a lot of us can get down, especially by the events of the day. I talk to a lot of my friends who say I don't watch the news for that very reason because there's no good news. There is good news out there if you look for it, but I wanted to encourage you today, a day when we could be and should be reflecting on what can be. As we look at the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, we need to have hope. We need to manufacture hope for what we want our future to look like and, most importantly, what we want it to be. And that takes more than just me doing it. It takes you doing it, your sister, your brother, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your mother, your father, the person down the street, the shopkeeper whose store you go into all the time, we need to be inventing hope on a regular basis. And I don't want to sound like a dime-store preacher, but this is something that Dr. King illustrated for us regularly, so much so that he lost his life for preaching hope. I don't think we should forget that. It shouldn't be lost on us the difference that this man made by fighting the good fight, one day at a time.

I want to encourage you this day as we think about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and all that he did, and all that he was then and now. We need to be asking ourselves, are we being hopeful? Are we thinking about what the future is? And yes, I get it. Is this a dramatic departure? I'm not talking about anything Northwest Arkansas specific because, you know what, Northwest Arkansas needs hope just like every other place. I'm pricking your conscience today with this podcast episode. I want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and recognize the hope that you have in your heart needs to come to fruition outside in the world. Don't just keep it for yourself. Share it with the world. The world wants what you have anyway, you just need to put it out there and share it, and certainly, I'm speaking from a constructive standpoint. We’re looking for positive things, not negative stuff. There's enough negative stuff out there, to begin with. I don't know who this particular message is for. I think it's for everybody, but there's somebody who needed to hear this today that needed to recognize that hope is invented every day. What they looked at yesterday, which discouraged them that soured them on maybe their own life or things that they're experiencing around them, today is going to be a day of encouragement. I want you guys to be thinking from that perspective and recognize what things are all about. Hope is invented every day and today is your day to take advantage of that, as you remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. This is a departure from how this podcast goes typically, but I hope you enjoyed this. It's much shorter. We will be back to regularly scheduled programming. To be honest, I had an episode I was going to share today, but then I say, you know what, I like sharing this information; I think it's valuable.

More importantly, I've just been encouraged lately that I just need to be me, and I need to share what's on my heart as I put this out. Yes, I have an agenda for I am Northwest Arkansas. Yes, I want to extol the benefits and the virtues and everything that makes Northwest Arkansas such a great place. It's all of the people that are part of Northwest Arkansas. It's not a building. It's not a company. Those are other aspects that make Northwest Arkansas cool, but it's the people that make Northwest Arkansas great. And so today, I'm encouraging all my friends and colleagues and people that I know here in Northwest Arkansas and beyond to embrace this idea of hope, and embrace the memory and the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, as you move forward.

2021 will be a big year, mark my words, I'm going to come back to this message at the end of the year. Some of you will have listened to this on the podcast and be like, okay. You were right. Just reinvent hope every day. Just think about it, I want to encourage you. And that's one of the reasons why I wear this little bracelet that says get one percent better every day. Part of me getting one percent better every day is that I have to hope that things will get better on a regular basis. If I didn't, I would just crawl into a hole somewhere. And I don't know about you, but I'm not about to do that. There's too much at stake. I've got my family, your families, my neighbors, everything else to fight for, so I just want to encourage you today. I appreciate you guys so much. Thank you, tribe, I am Northwest Arkansas, for continuing to support this work and this effort as we step out and just do things a little differently. Again, I could not do it without you. And I certainly could not do it without role models like Dr. Martin Luther King. So that's all I have for this week on this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Remember, you can check us out every Monday, wherever great podcasts can be found. And every now and then, I'll bring a live episode of the podcast right here on Facebook to share with you. And please, if this resonates with you, or if you like the podcast and you're a previous listener, I want to encourage you to share this with a friend. Even if you're not in Northwest Arkansas, just share it with a friend because we're leaving the light on for everybody, and we want folks to visit us here, come to explore what Northwest Arkansas is all about. And for some of you, you may want to move here. Don't be surprised, and don't knock it until you try it.

That's all I have for this week. I hope you guys have an amazing week. And remember, hope is invented every day. Peace.

TZL Open [15:54] We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week available anywhere that great podcasts can be found. For Show Notes or more information on becoming a guest, visit Iamnorthwestarkansas.com. We will see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas.

Hope is invented every day. ~ James Baldwin

Over this past year, I have developed a greater appreciation for James Baldwin’s writings. I have read many of his books and essays, which seem like they could have been written yesterday. Most recently, I came across this quote: “Hope is invented every day,” in Princeton professor Eddie Glaude’s recent book, “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.” This statement is profound on its own, but I think it takes on a deeper meaning when considering the context in which it was uttered. It’s akin to the impact of understanding King’s context for his 1963 Letter From The Birmingham Jail, from which comes the oft-quoted “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” King penned this lofty resolute open letter on peace, justice, and love from a narrow southern jail cell, in which King was placed following a peaceful march for civil rights on Good Friday 1963.

Baldwin survived three of his personal friends, who were tragically murdered for their work towards civil rights in just five years: Medgar Evers (1963), Malcom X (1965), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968). As recounted in Glaude’s book, Baldwin had a tough time dealing with the loss of King, who he called “America’s Apostle of Love.” Baldwin went into a deep depression and even attempted suicide after this traumatic event. In this context, Baldwin summoned his strength and courageously stated that “Hope is invented every day.”

Context is critical, and the echo of this 1968 quote reverberates to today. Then, we were deeply involved in the Vietnam War, losing many soldiers in the Tet Offensive. We tragically lost King to an assassination in April and Bobby Kennedy in June. We experienced riots in every major city from coast to coast. Now, we have seemingly insurmountable political and social divides, a global pandemic, a struggling economy, and extremist enemies of the State, both foreign and domestic. While acknowledging the hurts of the past and the troubles at hand, this quote recognizes that it takes a willful determination to be hopeful. We all must manufacture it, cultivate it and nurture it. 

Further, the nature of hope is fragile, and inventing it is a daily process. Last week’s hope won’t cut it. It may either grow stale or perhaps may even be erased by intervening bad news. 

This weekend we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and his enduring legacy, despite the swirling winds of division that would seek to blow out the flame of hope. I encourage each of us to heed his friend James Baldwin’s words and summon the strength to invent hope every day.

By, Damon Hart