Why it is vital that we embrace Dr. King’s dream of a Beloved Community
With all the acrimony and controversy going on in the United States at this time, it is vitally important to embrace the Beloved Community promoted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or face dire consequences. In 1960, King wrote the following in “The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness”:
“The dream is one of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where man will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men do not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a place where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of all human personality, and men will dare to live together as brothers…Whenever it is fulfilled, we will emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glowing daybreak of freedom and justice for all of God’s children.”
We have undoubtedly come a long way since King wrote these words, but few would argue that we still have a long journey in front of us. Racism and bigotry still pervade our land, including at the hightest levels of government. We have experienced a growing divide between the rich and the poor over the past 30 years. Even our democracy has been under attack when one considers some recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court (eg. Citizens United V. FEC, Shelby County V. Holder) .
When Dr. King spoke about the Beloved Community, he was very concerned with respect among the races. In the age of Trump, we must also emphasize respect for women, immigrants, people of different religions, people with disabilities, and people with different political opinions.
We still have millions of people living in poverty without affordable, quality health care. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and we are the only western, industrialized nation to use the death penalty.
King was against the Vietnam War and spoke out against militarism. If he was alive today, I am sure he would speak out against our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as our huge military budget and nuclear arsenal.
I suspect he would also speak about the need to protect our natural environment and take strong steps to counter global warming.
King’s vision of a Beloved Community is timeless. It is vital that we take his words seriously.
Houston Peace & Justice Center
Human Rights/Criminal Justice Working Group