The Beloved Community: Recognizing the interconnectedness of our lives
Apr 2, 2023, 11:45 AM | Updated: 1:03 pm
(Ryan Sun/Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke often about the need to create “the beloved community.” It’s a world where people of every race, religion and nation could live together in peace and harmony. And, an atmosphere where we can work together for the common progress of humankind. In the beloved community poverty, hunger and homelessness would not be tolerated. This is because standards of human decency won’t allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of Sisterhood and Brotherhood.
Dr. King did not invent the term “The Beloved Community.” He learned about it from the philosopher Josiah Royce. Dr. King expanded the theme with his extraordinary vision of what was possible. Many religious, political, business and community leaders have shared versions of the vision for decades now.
Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke recently to members in Chicago, Illinois. He described the premise of the Beloved Community. President Oaks challenged all to recognize the need to see each other as sisters and brothers. And, to not only respect one another despite our differences but to love one another as God loves all His children.
Beginning the journey toward the beloved community
In order to love one another in a way that fosters the beloved community the lost art of listening must be reenthroned as a vital virtue in society. Rabbi Melissa Weintraub heads an organization called Resetting the Table. She shared with me what it means to truly capture another person – who they are – not who we think they are, by listening and reflecting. Rabbi Weintraub teaches individuals and organizations the art and skill of “bullseye reflection” where you listen, and keep listening until the other person feels you have understood the essence (bullseye) of what they are saying. It is a blessed community kind of listening.
Reverend Phyllis Spiegel is the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Utah. We sat down recently and were discussing how the community is recreated coming out of isolation and how love can be fostered for all.
I love how Bishop Spiegel talks about not just those that are obviously struggling, the unhoused, the imprisoned or impoverished or addicted – but those living on our own streets who might be isolated or disconnected from the beloved community through age, illness or depression. It is all of our jobs to reach out and lift up.
The beloved community requires community
The beloved community cannot be created in isolation and requires individuals to lean in and lift-up those in need.
David Brooks is one of the nation’s leading writers and commentators. He is a columnist for The New York Times and a best-selling author. Some time ago I interviewed David and we discussed a unique component of the beloved community, which is our capacity to care and live in connection and even covenant with those in our community.
Humans have a natural, yet magical instinct and ability to care for others. Some take these divine inclinations and apply them to transform lives in their communities. David Brooks refers to them as The Weavers.
The Weavers, as described by David Brooks
David shared, “I’ve had the great fortune in the last year to be around what I call weavers. There’s a lot of social isolation in this country. But there are a lot of people who are building community and building relationships. And I created something at the Aspen Institute to try to learn from their example and build on their effect. And so we go around the country when we land in a town and we look for the weavers. We just go to the town and say who’s trusted here?
“And wherever you go, could be a small town, big city, there’s hundreds of people who get mentioned and we meet them. And some of them have started a program to help young men have father figures in their lives, a guy in Ohio who founded a boxing gym. He wasn’t really teaching boxing, he was teaching young men how to be men in a gentle way.
“A woman in Baltimore who surrounds each of the 450 lowest performing kids in the schools there with these vast networks of volunteers who are really serving as a second family for the kids, driving them to school, taking them lunch, being there through the ups and downs.
“These are people who have built community, and I think it’s transformative to be around them, because they believe in deep mutuality, that we’re all broken, we’re all equal, we’re all walking in this together.”
Let’s return to President Oaks’ recent address to members of the Church in Chicago, Illinois. He taught the principles which show how we must respect and value our differences while focusing on the things that truly unite us.
Truly oneness is not sameness. Unity of purpose will build the beloved community better and faster than focusing on the differences that can divide.
The beloved community requires determination
Ultimately the beloved community is brought about by individuals and families and groups of united people determined to make a difference.
Dr. King emphatically declared, “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”
The world and our individual communities need this kind of connection to the beloved community more than ever before.
In a 1966 essay, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. surmised what each of us must do to make the miracles of “opponent to friend” and “deep gloom to exuberant gladness,” a reality.
Our goal is to create a beloved community and
this will require a qualitative change in our souls
as well as a quantitative change in our lives.
There is one question for each of us, and all of us. And it is whether or not we will be committed to a qualitative change in our souls. As well as a quantitative change in our lives. The beloved community awaits our determined response. The beloved community will bring in its wake better days for individuals, families, neighborhoods, cities, states, and nations.
Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.
Bonneville International Corporation, the company that owns KSL NewsRadio, is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.