Over the past few months, we have shared the seven principles and a brief description of what they mean; now let’s consider what they mean in action. Given the continued violence in the world around us – and, at times, within us – I have been going back to those who came before me in the struggle to maintain and advocate for peace when so much seems daunting. This looking back caused me to step back and be humble, and to find out what it means to truly have respect for the interdependent web of all, including those I have not the kindest words for. The past couple of weeks I have been drawn to take a look at the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I came across a book written by L.D. Reddick, A Biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Crusader Without Violence. One particular section that stood out for me was the discussion of the Victory with Humility. I wanted to find some quote from Dr. King that would easily sum what I have been feeling about the issues of police brutality, black lives matter, and violence around us in many forms and the question of how faith fits in with all of this. On November 14, 1956, the headlines read “Supreme Court Outlaws Bus Segregation.” It was during this time, with such a victory after a long boycott campaign, that one would think everyone would be shouting loudly about how glorious it is; however, Dr. King is described as maintaining the essence of moderation. This is his statement from December 20, 1956, following the news:
“Now our faith seems to be vindicated. This morning the long awaited mandate from the United States Supreme Court concerning bus segregation came to Montgomery. This mandate expresses in terms that are crystal clear that segregation in public transportation is both legally and sociologically invalid. In the light of this mandate and the unanimous vote rendered by the Montgomery Improvement Association about a month ago, the year-old protest against city buses is officially called off, and the Negro citizens of Montgomery are urged to return to the buses tomorrow morning on a non-segregated basis.
“I cannot close without giving just a word of caution. Our experience and growth during this past year of united non-violent protest has been of such that we cannot be satisfied with a court ‘victory’ over our white brothers. We must respond to the decision with an understanding of those who have oppressed us and with an appreciation of the new adjustments that the court order poses for them. We must be able to face up honestly to our own shortcomings. We must act in such a way as to make possible a coming together of white people and colored people on the basis of a real harmony of interests and understanding. We seek an integration based on mutual respect.”
I believe that just as times were challenging and injustice was strong during that time, today is challenging and we of faith and of the human race must work on ourselves. We must be honest about the violence that can come when we forget that we are all connected in Shared Humanity. Get ready for more turbulence because the world is what it is, but put our principles in action and find a way to understand one another – especially those we see as the “other.” I challenge myself with this and ask you all to consider what it would be like if we each took a step back from the name-calling and blaming we do and see everyone as a part of the human race. Believing that we can do that and change – real change can happen when we unite for good and do it peacefully.
Yours in Peace,