“The beloved community is not a utopia, but a place where the barriers between people gradually come down and where the citizens make a constant effort to address even the most difficult problems of ordinary people. It is above all else an idealistic community.” ~Jim Lawson
This quote appears at the beginning of the book, “Waddie Welcome and the Beloved Community”, a beautiful real-life story written by Tom Kohler and Susan Earl. Visit http://www.waddiewelcome.com to learn more about this story and the movement it ignited. People from all over the world are sharing the message of this story by hosting readings of the book, in small and large gatherings, fostering the warmth of togetherness the book teaches through the life of Waddie Welcome. On Martin Luther King Day, each year, readings abound all over, in honor of this leader of nonviolent change. The incredible life of Mr. Welcome is bookended by a birthdate of July 4th and the day of his death, Martin Luther King Day.
In a time where people vowed for change ‘by any means necessary’, Martin Luther King Jr. stood for change in a nonviolent manner. Drawing from his roots in Christianity and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King called for grass-roots organizing, peaceful protests and civil disobedience. In other words, he was a positive agitator!
The readership of this blog is well aware of this man and I bring him up today for a couple of reasons. First off, it is Martin Luther King Day! So, of course, we honor his life greatly today and everyday. Secondly, and more to where my mind and heart have been over the past few years, is his message of love and nonviolence as a means for change.
I believe in love, unabashedly and unequivocally, I believe in love. Love transcends race, age, sex and religious affiliation. It encompasses our humanity. We live in a world where love is often overshadowed by hatred, violence, cynicism, judgement and fear. Well, I believe in love! I believe in nonviolent change! I am finishing a book by Parker Palmer, “A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life”, in which he identifies a need for us to honor our own souls, as well as the souls of others. Through his circles of trust, Palmer talks about the “third way” of approaching or combating the violence of the world, “The third way is the way of nonviolence, by which I mean a commitment to act in every situation in ways that honor the soul.” Palmer also expresses that, “One of the gifts we are given in a circle of trust is a chance to see how abnormal violence is. Here, under conditions that evoke ‘the better angels of our nature,’ we experience our innate capacity to honor, not violate, the identity and integrity of others.”
For me, this next reflection by Palmer is what makes his realization so powerful: “Now we understand a simple but significant truth: the third way is not a path of high heroism reserved for the likes of Gandhi and King. It is a path that can, and must, be walked by mortals like you and me.” There it is…practical application! Rather than admiring from afar, the mountaintop eclipsed by great leaders of our past, present and future, we MUST walk the path laid before by them and put into practice the idea that love can and will be the catalyst to real, sustainable change.
This sunset blessed my commute home this past Thursday. I’m humbled by the beauty of the world we live in and hopeful that we can push through the seemingly prevailing culture of negativity and, as Dr. King says, ‘rise’ above. On this day, remember the greatness of those past, and foster the beauty and greatness we all possess as brother and sisters in a common humanity. I believe in love…and I encourage all of those who also do, to not shy away from spreading that feeling and message to the rest of the world. Start with those closest, and then spread it to the farthest reaches of your capacity!!
Be well friends…