Recently, we as a nation found ourselves celebrating the life and contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here in Washington, D.C., it was just a few months ago that a monument dedicated to MLK was unveiled, making this year’s celebration even more tangible.  In reflecting on MLK’s life work, reminders of his core messages continually reveal themselves.

The one that timeless message that truly stands out is the importance of civil duty and service.

While it may not be written explicitly in the Constitution of the united states, to give back and serve our communities and country is a moral obligation in many ways and the responsibility of every individual, no matter a person’s position, influence or financial wealth.  As Johnnetta B. Cole once said, “The ultimate expression of generosity is not in giving of what you have, but in giving of who you are.”

The politics of public service has at times become a bit distasteful.  It continues to surprise me to find political spin attached to the idea of giving and serving.  For instance, as a young, conservative female, I have at times personally accused of “ignoring the poor, working against the needs of the elderly and children.”  Considering my state of constant giving, it is shocking to witness generosity of action to be twisted for the sake of political gain.

In my work and philanthropy, I have found that the better others do, the better I do.  Using this philosophy, the world begins to change.  For example, the work I do  on behalf of women has been a shining illustration of how that philosophy put in action, works.  At a time when women are emerging as political leaders, corporate executives, CEOs, business owners, professors and the like, the women with whom I work are discovering that giving of ourselves to one another is actually what is inching us forward in the climb towards gender parity and balanced systems of leadership and governance.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, living a life of service to one another becomes part of our contribution to current and future leaders and could be the answer to thoughtful leadership in politics and business.