MLK Day: Lay down a path walking towards Beloved Community

The civil rights movements had vital and substantial successes, but a change of heart did not follow changes in the law: the work of laying down a path as we walk towards Rev. King’s Beloved Community falls to us. Now and every day.

In 1968, as the mother of a young child, I watched the civil rights movement unfold in streets across the country via black and white news clips on one of the three national news networks. I’d gone to a top school system in the country (so I had been told) and graduated from a women’s college with a degree in French and a couple of courses in the history of Western civilization. Nothing in my education gave me a context to understand what was going on.

I was historically illiterate.

But I wasn’t morally ignorant. I knew bravery when I saw it. I knew abuse of power when I saw it. 

There was nothing murky here, the way there was about the Vietnam war, which also dominated the news and which ultimately led me to turn off the TV while we ate dinner.

I knew of Gandhi. I had never heard the phrase, “the Beloved Community.”

In his 1959 Sermon on Gandhi, Dr. King elaborated on the after-effects of choosing nonviolence over violence: “The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, so that when the battle’s over, a new relationship comes into being between the oppressed and the oppressor….

Sharing the wealth of the earth would come about through “understanding, redeeming goodwill for all…the love of God operating in the human heart” that does not discriminate “between worthy and unworthy people”  and “makes no distinction between a friend and enemy; it is…love seeking to preserve and create community. 

As we practice our way towards Beloved Community, the wealth we have to share at any given moment might be our time, attention, energy:

  • Putting aside our “discomfort”/aka fear again…and again
  • Permitting a change of heart to guide my behavior, which in turn fortifies my change of heart
  • Seeking out and learning history we weren’t taught
  • Being willing to see our racialized self as it is reflected back to us by contemporary writers and artists and actors of color

These are practices that help us lay down a path towards a Beloved Community as we walk.

You don’t have to lay down this path alone.

Gather a group of 6-15 friends, colleagues, who share your desire and readiness. We can begin to imagine and create a world where racial healing is an ongoing feature of our personal lives and the world.

Pick my brain for 30 minutes about

  • a 2-hour practice-based format for working with our own lived experiences and racialized origin stories
  • A 4-hour practice-based retreat encounter with our personal and national history, the American Dream, and American Citizenship.

For those embedded in a family, community, or workplace challenged by today’s controversies and conflicts, I offer a bundle of six 1/1 sessions of support for personal inquiry, skill-building, and transformation to negotiate the rough waters of your racialized and gendered life.

Let’s take these illuminating and strengthening steps together.