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On the Way to a Beloved Community. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr.

Still moving toward your vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’ Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr.!

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared his vision of a ‘Beloved Community,’ he said, “This will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” Let’s take a step back and reflect on both what a quantitative change in our lives…something we can count…might look like – AND what form a qualitative change in our souls might take.

We’ll begin with some background on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Information on King referenced in this post comes from www.theKingCenter.org: “The ‘Beloved Community’ is a term first coined in the early days of the 20th century by the philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation. However, it was another member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who popularized the term and invested it with a deeper meaning. For Dr. King, the ‘Beloved Community’ was a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.”

“Dr. King’s ‘Beloved Community’ is a global vision, in which all people share in the wealth of the earth. Poverty, hunger, and homelessness are not tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism, discrimination, bigotry and prejudice are replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of being related. International disputes are resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation instead of military power. Love and trust triumphs over fear and hatred. Peace and justice prevails over war and military conflict.”

“It was fifty nine years ago when Dr. King spoke of the ‘Beloved Community’ as the end goal of nonviolent boycotts. In a speech at a victory rally following the announcement of the U.S. Supreme Court decision desegregating the seats on Montgomery’s busses, King said, “The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends…It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men”… and I’d add women!

“The core value of the quest for Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” was agape love, which he described as “understanding, redeeming goodwill for all,” an “overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative”…”the love of God operating in the human heart.” Dr. King said that “Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people…It begins by loving others for their sakes” and “makes no distinction between a friend and enemy; it is directed toward both…Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community.”

Clearly, we haven’t gotten there yet! King identified six Nonviolent Principles that offer us a roadmap or a place to begin this year:

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil. It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
  2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation. The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the ‘Beloved Community.’
  3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice NOT people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people.
  4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation. Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.
  5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body. Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.
  6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win. Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.” (www.theKingCenter.org)

For me, one quantifiable change in my life is easy to count. It’s somewhat counter intuitive, because it involves intentionally choosing to be involved in fewer activities.

Ahh…what about a qualitative change in my soul? It involves intentionally choosing to be present…even when the newly installed dishwasher stops working. Yikes! Principle 5 “resists violence of the spirit as well as the body.” It’s a choice and it starts inside of each of us!

Martin, your wisdom continues to inspire! We’re still moving toward your vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’