—Reflections on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King had a dream – borrowed from the American philosopher Josiah Royce before him and passed on to us in his own stirring interpretation. It was a beautiful vision of a society that had moved past the destructive forces of hatred and violence into “The Beloved Community.”
“The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of ‘The Beloved Community.'”
I love the sound of “The Beloved Community.” It feels intimate and good and embracing. Who wouldn’t want to nestle into the arms of the beloved community? And that is what Dr. King wished for and worked for.
In “The Beloved Community,” all people share in the wealth of the earth; poverty, hunger and homelessness are no longer tolerated because they offend human decency. All forms of discrimination, racism, bigotry and prejudice are replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. And in the "Beloved Community", international disputes are resolved with words, not weapons.
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
Might does not make right. Right is might.
It is an ideal that may seem out of reach these days with the violence unfolding all around us. But, like Dr. King, I believe The Beloved Community is attainable.
We have seen the evidence in our own country…when the deaths of young black men in Ferguson, Cleveland and New York brought out thousands of people of all colors and persuasions from coast to coast, to proclaim that “black lives matter.”
We saw it in the streets of Paris when a million people of every faith and following marched in solidarity against the violence that took 17 lives.
We saw it in Nigeria as the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign spread from heartbroken mothers to the White House and around the world -- a groundswell of outrage at the kidnapping of schoolgirls by Boko Haram.
Baby steps, it’s true. There is still so much work to be done to achieve “The Beloved Community.” Each of these tragedies makes that clear. But we are, at least, beginning to see the light.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
“It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”
Martin Luther King gave us words to live by. Let us keep trying.