MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR & THE BELOVED COMMUNTY
Today to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. on his holiday, I reflect on his legacy to the world. We focus, as we should, on his leadership in the struggle for equality for all human beings. We also recall the controversy he raised when, in his commitment to non-violence, he urged a cessation and peaceful settlement of the war in Vietnam.
Today I would like to uncover a glowing vision that burned in him behind his struggles. The terms civil rights, non-violence, tolerance, and even equality are all very limited. His vision was broader and deeper, and we glimpse it only briefly when he refers to what he calls “the beloved community.”
The beloved community, as a vision, has its roots in the palpable love found in small church communities – especially in African-American ones. The rapture of divine universal love exploding in song and sermon there is an expression of the day by day connections, the compassion and helpfulness of ordinary poor people who share to survive. It is not perfect of course. We are still limited and confused by the rampant oppressions of our cultures.
But we can catch a glimpse, feel it quicken our hearts in moments of gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness among us. We may understand that well enough to ask, as King asked, as John Lewis asked and still asks, “what would it be like for us to live in the beloved community?”
Please ponder that question today and often in all your hearts and share in your circles.
What would it be like to live in a beloved community?”