12. Martin Luther King

September 18, 2012, OKFN, Helsinki, Finland.

September 18, 2012, OKFN, Helsinki, Finland.

The Amplified Bible is my favourite version of the Bible. It has a way of retelling God’s Word with greater effect. I carry  one with a weary leather cover. However, I have found lessons in other books that I hold so dear. One of my most favourite book is the “Autobiography of Martin Luther King”. This powerful paragraph creates leaps of joy in me

“O God, help me to see myself in my true perspective. Help me, O God, to see that I’m just a symbol of a movement. Help me to see that I’m the victim of what the Germans call a Zeitgeist and that something was getting ready to happen in history; history was ready for it. And that a boycott would have taken place in Montgomery, Alabama, if I had never come to Alabama. Help me to realize that I’m where I am because of the forces of history and because of the fifty thousand Negroes of Alabama who will never get their names in the papers and in the headline. O God, help me to see that where I stand today, I stand because others helped me to stand there and because the forces of history projected me there. And this moment would have come in history even if M. L. King had never been born.”

I was in Germany attending the Open Knowledge Festival. I had earlier attended the same event  two years ago in Finland. A Finish guy who was trying to propose a data visualization tool  had been looking for me for two years. I was just hanging around with friends (same we see in small niche of open data) when he saw me and smiled.

“I have been looking for you”

“When I saw you in 2012 (pictured above) you were a rockstar”

“I could not get close to you” 

“I am happy to see you again”

A tiny piece of pride rose in me. A rockstar indeed.

But if you read the quote by Martin Luther King, I deliberately kept some parts in bold so that it can truly resonate with me regarding the work I do with BudgIT.

There was a time I worried a lot about the future of BudgIT

“Where are we going to?”

“If someone will disrupt what we do, are we ending up as another footnote or in the heap of history?”

But it has always been clear to me that I am a steward of this idea – BudgIT.  Someone else would have done this if we did not do it or we stopped doing it well. Like there were 7,000  prophets in Israel when Elijah was feeling fly that he had not bowed down to Baal.

If we see everything we think we own as just being stewards, we will carve another angle at life.  This helps us approach life with a lot of humility and understand in the long space of things, we are just fulfilling our part. We are working to add our dent to the universe. 

Like this BudgIT won’t have existed if Tesla did not build alternating current or the Internet did not emerge in the 1990s. What if there was no social media to propagate our work or Abubakar Abdulsalam held on to power  with cruelty and did not allow democracy to thrive? Where will be find the data? 

Seeing things this way, always remind me that I am just a filling space in a  big pipe. This thing would have existed without me. I should be more grateful, it was an idea whose time has come, I am just here as a steward.

How many things do we have that is truly ours?



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