Sunday, January 18, 2009
What Would Martin Luther King Do?
On this day of celebration, heralding a new age ever possible because in part of our collective memory growing stronger about the importance of Dr. King and because of the first African Descent US President, nonviolence comes to mind. Civil rights has been a battle, and continues to be so – can we win by nonviolence when there are those that would use violence and domination against us so that their needs have priority over ours? This was a major question and divisive point during the 1960’s and 1970’s, and continues to be so today. Can we win against terrorism with a Department of Peace alone? Is it possible to raise children without the threat of punishment? Get our partners to do what we want without blame and judgment? The operative word here is “win.” If there is ever a sense of a side, or only two ways of doing things, such as violence versus nonviolence, or my way or your way, then we get bogged down into struggling for whose strategy gets prominence instead of letting go of outcomes and seeing what new, creative, life giving possibility might emerge.
Listening to other’s needs does not mean allowing your needs to be diminished or taken from the table. There might even come a time when you have to “shout” out what your needs are because the “other” isn’t listening, or even use protective use of force when the “other” is too ignorant, unable, or unwilling to keep themselves or others from harm. What would Martin Luther King do today in your shoes? That is the question I leave to your imagination. My guess though is that he would listen and then shout from the highest mountaintop if needed to keep the dream alive. He’d make them hear him, perhaps only after he had been doubly sure he had heard them.
Perhaps this is a simple guide then. Listen for clarity with every possible breath, then listen again. Then give the other a chance to listen, and then try again. But don’t ever let any disappointment in lack of communication and connection turn you around – keep on listen’, shoutin’, and cryin’ if need be for the us to become the we. We. We. All the way home to the beloved community.
In faith of freedom,