Welcome the Beloved Community

In a world that appears to be divided on so many fronts, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Beloved Community” that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about.

The idea was first coined by philosopher Josiah Royce and refers to “an ideal community… a society of justice, peace and harmony which can be achieved through nonviolence.” In 1957 during a sermon to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama Dr. King said, “The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community.”

The King Center’s website is a rich resource and lists Dr. King’s Fundamental Philosophy of Nonviolence:

  • Principle 1: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
  • Principle 2: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
  • Principle 3: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
  • Principle 4: Nonviolence holds that suffering for a cause can educate and transform people and societies.
  • Principle 5: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
  • Principle 6: Nonviolence believes the universe is on the side of justice.

This isn’t just a pipedream. This is what’s possible for us. For you, me, our communities, and our world.

I’m committed to not only welcoming that Beloved Community but being part of it. How? By living in love, showing compassion for those I don’t understand, practicing forgiveness and learning about ideas I disagree with to advocate for peaceful collaboration.

Is it a big task? Massive.

But I realize I don’t have to change the world. I need only start with my tiny corner. When the ideals of the Beloved Community consistently shine within my own heart, my world starts to change.

For me, that’s living the Be Love Principles. What about you? I invite you to think about the following questions, meditate on them or use as journal prompts:

  • What would a Beloved Community look like for me? My family?
  • What is one action or thought I could commit to today to move myself toward a more peaceful world?
  • What could I read, watch, or listen to that would enhance my understanding of how to live more harmoniously with myself, my family, my community and the world?
  • What is one thing I could do now, in this moment, to feel more loved and loving?

As the United States celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday this week, I remember being a six-year-old girl watching part of Dr. King’s “I have a dream speech” as I sat with my dad watching the news in August 1963.

It reminds me I have a dream too. Like Dr. King, I dream of a respectful, compassionate, inclusive world where people come together in loving collaboration to solve problems. And that’s the norm. In my dream I see people working together to find creative solutions to environmental issues, safe and nutritious food that’s available to all, a health system that truly emphasizes health over illness and groups that exist to help people, organizations and countries find peaceful resolutions where only conflict once ruled.

This is the world I want to leave my grandson. And there are so many ways to get there. Embrace the teachings of Dr. King, the Be Love Principles or a source you resonate with.

Don’t know where to start? Go inside the sacred space of your own heart and say, “Show me.”


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