This week, we remember Dr. Martin Luther King. During his life, Dr. King gave voice to a vision of an America without racism, war, or poverty—and went on to embrace that vision for all the people of the world. As Dr. King wrote in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Dr. King would have us come together in a Beloved Community.
That statement has never been more true than it is today. The networks of mutuality have expanded to the networks of the internet, commerce, and the fragile eco system of a much abused planet. However, the forces of mutuality are driven apart by the politics of fear, greed, and power.
Thankfully, Dr. King left us a rich legacy of hope and practical tools to aid us in the work for justice and liberty. As we the people work together to create a more perfect union, we draw on Dr. King’s inspiration and the fruits of his labor during his short life among us. Through his work, Dr. King and his allies expanded the space for dissent, for free speech, for public protest. They went to jail for their beliefs and stirred the conscience of the nation and the world. He left us a stronger franchise and a framework for a more inclusive society— one where race, color, sex, religion, and national origin should not be cause for discrimination. We have continued to expand our understanding of who must be included in the Beloved Community —regardless of physical ability, age, sexual orientation or identity, or immigration status.
Dr. King’s spirit of creative non-violence was alive and well in the Women’s March last year and the March for our Lives last month by the high school students —where millions of people stood for justice without injury to person or property.
Why care about civil rights and civil liberties? What is the source of our caring? Dr. King would say that we should care because we believe – as he did–in the power of love, a love for all humanity. There is a direct relationship between the elimination of injustice and our achieving a Beloved Community. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and a threat to justice for everyone.