The third Monday of each January is the U.S. holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In honor of his impact in our lives toward peaceful, non-violent change, I wanted to challenge each of us to create his dream in our own lives: his dream of The Beloved Community.
The Beloved Community is a two-fold dream. It has as its center point the two aspects of non-violent change that Dr. King pursued in helping to change our country toward more racial equality: Compassion and Economic Justice for all.
Without both sides of this equation, peace cannot happen, and economic justice cannot happen. Without both compassion and economic justice, the poor will be with us always, and we will continue to discriminate against minorities of all kinds, as we have seen in our country on many fronts.
This kind of justice means liberty for all, which extends to anyone wanting to marry anyone they choose, regardless of their sexual orientation. Liberty means women treated as equals in their reproductive choices and in the marketplace, not earning 75 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Justice and liberty mean that we do not torture prisoners of war, that we do not hold them endlessly without trial, that we do not use Nazi tactics to terrorize them and then espouse ourselves as lovers of freedom and human rights.
“There are unjust men, as there are unjust laws.”
It is not enough to have compassion for others, we must have both compassion and the willingness to stand for what is actually good, and just, and right. The Beloved Community does not just sit back within its own comfortable walls of conformity, sitcoms and mutual funds, but instead extends itself to those who are suffering because of injustice, because of the lack of compassion.
Beloved Community is a human-based dynamic, not a sectarian or nationally based way of life.
We must have both sides of this equation in order to create what Dr. King believed in, and so many others have come forward to pursue, the dream of the Beloved Community.
Many of us have this in our religious organizations, and for that, we’re thankful. Many of us have also moved away from large religious organizations, pursuing smaller communities that include a particular vision of Spirit being lived, of collaborative life, of egalitarian relationships between women and men.
Whatever your spiritual pursuit, I challenge you to work this year to bring the ideas of compassion and economic justice into your actions, into your meditations, into your life.
The Beloved Community does not leave out people of other spiritual beliefs, but instead welcomes and embraces them. The ideas of compassion and economic justice do not build policies of empire, as our current national administration is doing, but instead reaches out and creates mutual relationships of benefit to all.
The Beloved Community seeks non-violent resolution to conflicts, understanding between peoples, cooperation and love among enemies.
“It’s easy to extend love to our friends. The challenge is to do so to our enemies. That’s the real test of our Spirituality.”
In our quest for Beloved Community, let’s find ways to reach out beyond our comfort zones this year. Let’s find the time to connect with people of different faiths, not for evangelical purposes, but to join hearts and minds. Evangelism is just another method of domination and discrimination, of seeing the Other as Less Than Me, of not respecting the spiritual and human path and personal and communal cultures of those proselytized.
Let’s practice being human beings first, and listen to the joys and sorrows of our fellow travelers on this human journey.
That will create for each of us our own Beloved Community.
Copyright (c) 2007 Don McAvinchey