The Functioning Festering Heart of the Matter

Fifty-four years ago on this night, two hours east of my adopted hometown of Little Rock Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was pronounced dead as a result of an assassins bullet. As the news spread across the nation a wave of despair and violence erupted and not far from where I sit tonight in Chicago Union Station riots tore through the city.

You can’t see the visible scars looking at much of the affected west side these days, but the more I hear and see of how we are relating to one another these days, the more I’m convinced that the invisible psychic scars are alive and festering.

No this isn’t a gloom and doom piece. I have far too much joy in my heart to slide down that dark hallway. I want to share a few thoughts with you all about how valuable it can be to see the evidence of a festering wound.

First let’s make sure we are all on the same page about what it means to fester.

When something festers it is often seen as a bad thing like a negative feeling or a problem, something that “becomes worse or more intense, especially through long-term neglect or indifference”.

When we speak of festering and emotions we often use the context “anger which festers and grows in his heart”.

But there is something that a festering wound is good for, it helps you pinpoint the source of an infection. Put another way, it helps you get to the root of the problem so you can address it.

I am not a disciple of the philosophy of “it is what it is” so I see a festering wound as a tool to let me know a helpful solution is needed. If there is a problem, I want it aired out and dealt with because I just don’t see the sense in prolonging pain or discomfort. There’s too much life to enjoy.

Ignoring a festering wound or treating it with the wrong solution can have horrific outcomes. There was a festering wound afflicting the man who shot and killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, what might this world have looked like if he had received the solution he needed to address his pain rather than take the life of another?

We have a lot of people hurting today and many don’t know how to stop the hurt. Some try to dull it, others seek professional help, some ignore it or try to power through it. Are we sensitive to these struggles? Do we make offers of help to our friends and neighbors to identify and address the wrongs, the hurts, the pains that lead to poor life decisions? Are we losing our capacity to be kind in favor of personal self interest?

I sat at a table on a train earlier today and I talked with my fellow countrymen about the state of our nation. We all had different philosophies and causes that moved us to action but we all of us agreed that it was okay that we didn’t agree. We could discuss things with civility and that we could all agree was in short supply in our nation.

Perhaps we all need to keep our eyes peeled for the festering wounds and try to figure out how to deal with those for the good health of all.

Marta is an award winning filmmaker, writer and producer committed to sharing the rich and complex stories of America’s Heartland region.  Marta wears several hats as Chief Creative-in-Charge of MartaGwyn Productions, LLC as well as the Co-Founder and Senior Grant Writer of Youngblood and Associates, LLC and Chief Operations Officer of Marta Collier Educational Systems and Services, LLC.

Marta is also the founder and editor-in-chief of TheWRITEaddiction.  An online community of writers that publish creative and inspirational works daily at

Marta is an alumna of The Ohio State University and Tougaloo College with degrees in Sociology and English-Journalism and resides in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband and unconventional college sweetheart of 11 years, Terrance Youngblood.

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