Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Martin Luther King
Today we contemplate the wisdom and courage of Martin Luther King. The quote above was taken from his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
Today’s world could really use a Dr. King, or a Gandhi. A person who could show us a path towards broad acceptance of others outside our “normal” lives.
It is ironic that we continue to tear ourselves apart in a desperate attempt to “unify” ourselves. With each pass we narrow our sights on what can be unified, cutting out an ever larger group who doesn’t fit easily into our vision. What is left is a patchwork of special interests each consumed by their narrow desires.
Examples are everywhere. Some Americans want to close their borders to Muslims because a minority within the Muslim community are a threat. Republicans and Democrats won’t work together because it is inconvenient to tell their constituents why a piece of legislation is for the greater good, instead choosing to tell why they’re defending a constituent’s interest.
We objectify everything! Name people as Democrats, Republicans, NRA member, Liberal, Socialist, Libertarian, Wall Street, Rich, Poor, Black , White, Muslim, Christian, Jewish… The lists go on and on.
Objectification is simple, easy. It accomplishes two goals at the same time. It positions someone how you want to position them, giving you some sense of control over that person. Objectification also allows you to ignore the real, messily complex, person. It is the “You” in another person that is so difficult to see when “You” are covered in labels like an old well-traveled suitcase.
My only point is that You and I are greater when two becomes more than one.
A hard lesson, and an even harder action to accomplish. You and I must work at it tirelessly every day. The car that cuts you off is carrying someone under stress. Can you feel sadness for their predicament while reminding yourself you’ll still arrive around the same time? The hate-filled speech from politicians mirrors divisive currents in our society. Can you do anything to mend these divisions?
Do you have the courage of Dr. King to negotiate, self-purify, and act in the face of injustice? Even a small, tentative gesture can make a difference.
Try today! Even if it is only to forgive that person driving around you.