Reclaiming Dr. King’s Dream of a Beloved Community
Many years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of his dream of a Beloved Community, a community where all people are respected regardless of race, where the basic human needs of all people are met, and where differences are solved without using violence. Dr. King’s dream has inspired millions of people over the years, but how far have we come in achieving this dream?
Today, we still see many places in our nation where racism and bigotry are evident. Millions of people still live in poverty without health care. The divide between the poor and rich continues to grow. We have the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world. We are the only western, industrialized nation to use the death penalty. And we have still not learned to resolve problems within our nation and internationally without the use of violence.
We have elected a President who makes disparaging remarks about women, people with disabilities, the news media and the judiciary. His bigotry against Muslims and Mexicans is obvious. His policies will result in millions of immigrants being deported with the result that families will be broken up and children left behind. And if his justice policies become a reality, thousands more people will be unnecessarily incarcerated in our already massive prison system, with a detrimental result on families and communities.
This is enough to make the most stalwart optimist to become discouraged. But we should not give up! We should reinforce our efforts to make our nation and the world a more just and peaceful place for all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, economic status, sex or sexual preference. There are millions of people in this nation and world who embrace Dr. King’s dream and want to see things improve for all people.
King once said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity….Every man must decide if he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness….Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
David Atwood is on the board of the Houston Peace and Justice Center. He is author of three books: Detour to Death Row, Nonviolent People and My Search for the Beloved Community.