January 19, 2014
Dear Dr. King,
Do I have the strength to love? I have the strength to struggle but what of the strength to be still and know, to remember the connectivity of our humanity, the strength to love across differences? Do we have the strength to love?
These questions blossom from roots planted many years back. They blossom now because we appear to be at a crucial time when the weapons of poverty, racism, and war continue to flourish and their roots dig deeper into the soil of our humanity. They blossom when I listen to friends and colleagues share about social justice struggles with scant acknowledgement of the connection we have with our oppressors. They blossom because some of us are willing to leave the ‘other’ behind-the ‘other’ who have generationally oppressed us. They blossom because I meet elders, sisters and brothers, and young folks tired of the same ole same ole wondering if a harder fight will change the roots of injustice. They blossom because white supremacy and power confuses many and convinces them that the ‘other’ must be feared and oppressed to assure freedom for some. They blossom because we isolate and insulate ourselves in our identity politics and forget that until each is free we are all slaves. They blossom because the happiness of the few is held supreme to the happiness of many. They blossom because peace has become separate from justice and violent language is acceptable while violent action is criminalized and punished. They blossom because the prison industrial complex grows while generations of communities of color grow up behind bars. They blossom because we punish young people behaving badly and convince them that they are bad and worthless, not their behavior learned from us. They blossom because the academic industrial complex continues to grow its power through disenfranchisement of communities of low income and color and our government supports this. They blossom because the non-profit industrial complex continues to grow large on the backs of the very people they are paid to help. They blossom because we appear surprised by neoliberalism, a new label for what we have been doing since America was birthed. They blossom because the top 20% of Americans control access to wealth and good health and continue to reap the benefit of an inequitable economic system.They blossom because we have allowed our hearts and minds to be co-opted by consumerism controlled by a market drown in greed and corruption. These questions blossom and challenge our strength to love.
I have the “Strength to Love” with me in the form of your written words but do I have it inside of me to practice as I engage in struggles for justice? How have we grown the ‘beloved community’ to fulfill a peaceful and noble intention for justice for all? How do we continue to practice to cultivate this strength not only in words and actions but in thought? How do we find the stillness amidst the frantic movement we who struggle for justice feel we must adapt to be credible in our struggles?
Today outside the waters are still in this part of the world lulling my mind to stillness long enough to write this love letter to you. Tomorrow we will celebrate the strength of your wisdom, inspiration, faith, and actions for peace and love as we commemorate the anniversary of your birth. After that minute we will return to our separate and disconnected struggles-personal, social, political-and forget again. In hope, may we remember that we stand on the shoulders of those filled with spirit who led the fight for freedom and practice to acknowledge the seeds of love present in our heart. May these drops of awareness breathe life into these seeds of love to blossom and connect us within our struggles, across our struggles, and with those who struggle to oppress us.
(for the Beloved Community)