Kairos. I often hear people say it’s a kairos moment and wonder what it means. After doing a word study, I discovered the definition of kairos (Greek) is an opportune or special time to say, write, or do something at the right moment.
The instant you knew that the words you spoke or wrote, or your actions had an impact on someone’s life.
Once I understood what kairos time is, I realized it unfolds as pivotal points in our lives along the timeline of our history. It can be a conscious decision, or it is often seen as the function of a Higher Power.
However you perceive it; a kairos time can impact our nation collectively, influence political movements, and even affect individual lives.
On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered a short two-minute speech at a battlefield cemetery honoring the 23,000 men who perished during the Battle of Gettysburg. As Pres. Lincoln drafted the Gettysburg Address; he saw this as a kairos moment to speak to the country as a whole. Lincoln used that moment to convey a time he envisioned the nation’s new birth of freedom.
However, the people were forlorn and wartorn, and Lincoln gave them something to believe in. He presented them with a sense of a higher purpose and a moral action to fight for the freedom of African-Americans and the unity of the country. Even though today, some are suspect of Lincoln’s motives, this kairos event stands as a historical tenet of our democracy.
Letter From a Birmingham Jail
The second example of a kairos moment is Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail. Dr. King penned this work in response to eight white ministers who questioned his direct action approach to the Civil Rights Movement. Not having read the letter in its entirety until recently, I’m amazed at the power and force of the words.
For example, Dr. King wrote, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” which still rings true today. The words are timeless. Elsewhere in the document, he quotes the British statesman, William Gladstone “Justice delayed is justice denied.” The letter galvanized the Civil Rights Movement and gave it momentum to engage in civil disobedience all over the country.
The twenty-one-page letter was never delivered, however, it was printed and distributed throughout the nation. It is still read today in schools and universities the world over.
Tulsa Police Chief
Currently, a kairos event is occurring in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. To understand the significance of this moment, I must relate the history and context of the milestone that took place on February 7, 2020.
In 1921, Tulsa experienced the worst race riot in this nation’s history. The thirty-five block of businesses, affluent homes, and churches, also known as the Black Wall Street, was leveled over the course of thirty-six hours.
The ensuing massacre was the response to an alleged attack of an African-American teen upon a white elevator operator. Law enforcement provided guns and ammunition to the white rioters who murdered men, women, and children and burned property.
Almost one-hundred years later, Mayor G.T. Bynum swore in Wendell Franklin, a twenty-one year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department who happens to be African-American. That also coincides with the discovery of possible mass graves containing the bodies of the victims of the massacre.
They are just a few examples of kairos moments in the history of a nation, a movement, a city, and a life. The awareness of the opportune time to say, to write, or do a thing can have a lasting impact during the course of our lives.
We all have our own kairos moments. Recording and writing these events may help define your place and moment in history, and in the lives of your family and community. Go ahead, remember your kairos, they are a part of what makes life significant.
Want to create your own kairos moment? You can with my 4-Step Action Plan. I used it to create my vision statement, it works!
Debbie Walker is a great-grandmother, blogger, and writer with a BA in Psychology. Her vision is to help others live the life they aspire to live…one word at a time. Stay in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org