+
upworthy
Most Shared

Ad execs probably should have read the full MLK speech before making that commercial.

Things got a little awkward during the Super Bowl when Ram Trucks aired an ad titled "Built to Serve," featuring the voice of  the late Martin Luther King Jr.

The minute-long commercial was intended to highlight the importance of service, and for that, King's "The Drum Major's Instinct" sermon seemed to make for an appropriate backing track. Unfortunately for Ram, the clip came off as a standard truck ad, and it was roundly mocked on social media.

"If you want to be important — wonderful," King's voice can be heard over clips of a fisherman loading his daily catch, a teacher scribbling on a chalkboard, and a rancher looking wistfully to the horizon. "If you want to be recognized —wonderful. If you want to be great — wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness."


A Ram truck splashes through the rain as King's voice bellows:

"By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know the theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love."

It was a little odd. Some labeled it disrespectful, and others called it hypocritical in light of the ongoing controversy over players kneeling in silent protest. Whatever Ram's intentions, these likely weren't the reactions the company was hoping for.

The King Center, founded by his widow, Coretta Scott King, issued a statement distancing itself and CEO Bernice King from the ad. The group responsible for giving Ram the OK is called Intellectual Properties Management, run by Dexter Scott King, King's son.

If something good does come out of this ad, it'll be some increased familiarity with King's "The Drum Major Instinct" sermon.

No minute-long commercial can capture the message of the more than 38-minute-long speech. Yes — that sermon touched on the importance of serving others; it also contained a sharp rebuke of materialism. To add a bit of irony to its use here, the speech also includes an entire section about the dangers of advertising and capitalism — specifically mentioning auto companies. Yikes!

"Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you're just buying that stuff. That's the way the advertisers do it.
***
But very seriously, it goes through life; the drum major instinct is real. And you know what else it causes to happen? It often causes us to live above our means. It's nothing but the drum major instinct. Do you ever see people buy cars that they can't even begin to buy in terms of their income? You've seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don't earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. But it feeds a repressed ego."

The sermon's core message is that we all have an instinct within us to be the "drum major" of our lives, to lead the parade. That instinct, left unchecked, can drive people to simply marinate in their own ego and seek attention without actually giving much back. King's message urges us to recognize that instinct, harness it for the power of good, and to allow ourselves to let go of materialism and our need to feel superior over others. In short, it's everything a car commercial is not.

Part of what makes "The Drum Major Instinct" one of King's most important works has to do how close it came to his death, just two months after the speech.

He described what he'd like his funeral to look like and how he'd like others to remember him. He asked that rather than draw attention to the many awards he earned during his lifetime that we focus on the message that he helped spread.

50 years after his death, it's a shame that so much of his work has become so sanitized that his message has been defanged and made palatable for members of society content with the status quo and whose knowledge of his fight started and ended with the "I Have a Dream" speech. There's so, so much more than that.

King in 1964. Photo by Keystone/Getty Images.

"Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize — that isn’t important," he asked his audience to remind future eulogists. "Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards — that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school."

He continued:

"I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.  And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that's all I want to say."

Using "The Drum Major Instinct" might have been a big mistake for Ram, but it's a good reminder for the rest of us to actually listen to the words King preached.

You can listen to a recording of King's "The Drum Major Instinct" sermon here and read the transcript here.


We all know that Americans pay more for healthcare than every other country in the world. But how much more?

According an American expatriate who shared the story of his ER visit in a Taiwanese hospital, Americans are being taken to the cleaners when we go to the doctor. We live in a country that claims to be the greatest in the world, but where an emergency trip to the hospital can easily bankrupt someone.

Kevin Bozeat had that fact in mind when he fell ill while living in Taiwan and needed to go to the hospital. He didn't have insurance and he had no idea how much it was going to cost him. He shared the experience in a now-viral Facebook post he called "The Horrors of Socialized Medicine: A first hand experience."

Keep ReadingShow less
With permission from Sarah Cooper.

Men and the feels.


Note: This an excerpt is from Sarah Cooper's book, How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings.

In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they're not perceived as pushy, aggressive, or competent.

One way to do that is to alter your leadership style to account for the fragile male ego.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Man lists 8 not fun, but very important things you need to start doing as an adult.

"Welcome to being an adult. Maybe you weren't told this by your parents, but this is through my trial and error."

@johnfluenzer/TikTok

8 things you should be doing as an adult. Spoiler alert—none of them are fun.

Who among us hasn’t come into full adulthood wishing they had known certain things that could have made life so so so much easier in the long run? Choices that, if made, ultimately would have been much better for our well-being…not to mention our wallets.

But then again that is all part of growing older and (hopefully) wiser. However there is something to be said about getting advice from those who’ve been there, rather than learning the hard way every single time.

Thankfully, a man who goes by @johnfluenzer on TikTok has a great list of things young people should start doing once they become adults. Are any of his suggestions fun, cool or trendy? Not at all. But they are most definitely accurate. Just ask any 30+-year-olds who wished they had done at least four of these things.
Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Her boyfriend asked her to draw a comic about their relationship. Hilarity ensued.

The series combines humor and playful drawings with spot-on depictions of the intense familiarity that long-standing coupledom often brings.

All images by Catana Chetwynd


"It was all his idea."

An offhand suggestion from her boyfriend of two years coupled with her own lifelong love of comic strips like "Calvin and Hobbes" and "Get Fuzzy" gave 22-year-old Catana Chetwynd the push she needed to start drawing an illustrated series about long-term relationships.

Specifically, her own relationship.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

My wife surprised her coworkers when she came out as trans. Then they surprised her.

She was ready for one reaction but was greeted with a beautiful response.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Zoe comes out to her coworkers.


Society, pay attention. This is important.

My wife, Zoe, is transgender. She came out to us — the kids and me — last summer and then slowly spread her beautiful feminine wings with extended family, friends, and neighbors.

A little coming out here, a little coming out there — you know how it is.

Keep ReadingShow less


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


Keep ReadingShow less