Skip To Main Content
Doing What is Right: Personal Growth in an Atmosphere of Wise Freedom
Photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in DC

“The time is always right to do what is right.” These are the words of Martin Luther King Jr. that are etched in stone at the FBI Academy’s reflection garden in Quantico, Virginia. The words are very intentionally placed there as a reminder to FBI employees and students as they come and go day in and day out. 

We are fortunate to have a day dedicated to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His life was a passionate pursuit for justice, where he sought to bring equal rights to all people. His famous, “I Have a Dream Speech,” rings out in our memory and we can picture him standing on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I often draw inspiration from his speeches and words when I need a boost or a reminder that the journey toward justice and freedom does not come in five easy steps. If doing the right thing was easy and quick we probably wouldn’t have dedicated a day to MLK’s legacy. We know the struggle he fought against to create fundamental positive change in our country tested his moral fiber and our country’s understanding of freedom and liberty. Ultimately he paid the ultimate price of his life while speaking and marching for justice. 

Beyond his calls for justice, he also spoke eloquently about service when he said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” This year I set out to have my New Year’s resolution focus on doing instead of giving up. Reaching out to others and offering an extra hand when needed was something I wanted to do more often. Three weeks into 2020 I can feel a difference away from a narrow perspective and toward a wider view. Serving others is really about taking action and not playing it safe with calculated steps. As MLK lived, it’s about serving for justice, freedom, liberty, and joy.

Can a Regis boy as young as 3 find a time to do what is right? Yes, and he can find it numerous times from his entrance into the Milestones building to the classroom, and on to the playground and into the lunchroom. His experience at Regis is a laboratory for finding out how to do what is right. He has experts all around him gently reminding him and demonstrating how doing the right thing can be difficult but also rewarding to him and his classmates. I have the privilege of seeing this in action every day, and I take full advantage of the moments by telling the boys they are making good choices. For young boys I know it is critical to remind them that doing what is right is not easy. While they pray in assembly each morning, we call on St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, and we share her stories of courage and confidence. The boys also hear of the challenges St. Philippine Duchesne faced in traveling to a new land and a dangerous frontier. 

The gifts of a Sacred Heart education come in many forms for our Regis boys but the one form that boys mention to me most often is contained in Goal Five of our Goals and Criteria. Goal Five calls each boy to a Personal Growth in an atmosphere of Wise Freedom. I’ve served at three different Sacred Heart schools, and this Goal is a boy’s favorite because it is the most difficult but also the most rewarding. All boys want to do the right thing, but they know it takes struggle and pain to get to it sometimes. They will make mistakes and they will have to grapple with failure and self-confidence and self-awareness. They will have to face head on a beginning understanding of who they are and who they are becoming. Growing from a little boy to a big boy, and then eventually into a man is a scary journey. If they know they will be nurtured in the personal growth by mentors who care about them, and give them just enough wise freedom, they can reach the finish line toward adulthood with courage. Then they can see what they can do for others who are coming up behind them. They can show their little brothers what it takes to be a big brother. That’s the gift of a Sacred Heart education at Regis.

As we teach our boys to be strong academically as they prepare for their academic futures we take comfort in MLK’s advice that a strong and intellectual mind is empty without strong character. He said it well back in 1954 when he said, “it’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we’ve got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity.”

May the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. ring out in the actions of our lives so that we believe the time to do the right thing is always right now!