"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

How close are we to achieving Dr. King's dream?

As we observe what would have been the civil rights leader's 88th birthday on Jan. 16, the answer to that question seems more complicated than ever.

We are a polarized nation. Witness the 2016 presidential election. Along with being divided along political lines, we have differing perspectives on race formed through our experiences, people we've known, stories we've read, images we've seen and countless other factors.

One of the keys to fighting racial discrimination in our society is empathy. This quality can be developed by doing volunteer work and serving in our community.

It can be molded by meeting new people, discussing issues and learning from one another. Developing empathy and applying it is a step we must take to attain Dr. King's dream of equality.

Seeing problems from someone else's point of view will hopefully motivate us to work toward the best solutions.

Finding good answers depends on having a deep understanding of the challenges at hand.

As Dr. King said: "Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"

Only a small percentage of society will have the ultimate authority to change laws and policies dealing with racial equality, but everyone is capable of serving, helping and learning from their fellow human beings.

In honor of Dr. King's message and the battles he fought, we challenge everyone to foster a sense of empathy.

Doing so will break down the walls of division and bring us toward a more unified world.