MLK's Vision: Here and Now
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said on several occasions, “I can never be what I ought to be unless you are what you ought to be.” The Baptist preacher — shaped by the philosophy of Hindu politician Mahatma Gandhi, inspired by the writing of Jewish theologian Martin Buber, and instructed by the critique of Muslim leader Malcolm X — broke out of the separatism of his own tradition and American life in general. He said we need each other. He said we are bound to each other, whether we recognize it or not.
“We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly,” he said. “We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”
As we remember Dr. King this weekend, let us recall his distinctive vision that is crucial for our time.
King stood in the stream of prophetic religion. It was the particular source of his vision for universal love, liberation and justice.
King leaned on the power of spiritual community. It was the actual manifestation of a dream for a new humanity.
King walked from sanctuary into city. It was the specific destination, the site where all things could be made new.
His vision shapes Sympara's aspiration to connect people across differences through sacred/civic space devoted to the common good.
When we puzzle over what it will take to heal the world of loneliness, division and despair, we see a solution that King knew is not far from our experience: people being neighbors.
When we wonder what the levers are to effect change, we come upon the forces that King claimed: the desire of individuals, the kindness of strangers, the power of place.
When, after all our doubting and hand-wringing, we ask where to start, we suddenly see buildings all around us, the spaces King inhabited, the communities he called to greater purpose: underutilized religious properties that can be activated for the flourishing of all people.
The vision is grand. It is also within our reach. So let's start here, my friend.