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Monday, January 19, 2015

MARTIN LUTHER KING JRs EXPANSIVE DREAM

It is not enough to talk about institutions and workplaces that fracture and separate people based on race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. We must also look at the ways that we ourselves manifest these bigotries -- how we are the very ones who uphold and are part of these institutions and workplaces.
Often, we find that these institutions and workplaces are broken, dysfunctional, and wounded in the very same ways that we are. The structures we have created are mirrors not of who we want to be, but who we really are.
King would remind each of us that we cannot heal the world if we have not healed ourselves. So perhaps the greatest task, and the most difficult work we must do in light of King's teachings, is to heal ourselves. And this work must be done in relationship with our justice work in the world.

In A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway said that the world breaks us all, but some of us grow strong in those broken places. King's teachings invite us to grow strong in our broken places - not only to mend the sin-sick world in which we live, but also to mend the sin-sick world that we carry around within us. And we can only do that if we are willing to look both inward and outward, healing ourselves of the bigotry, biases, and demons that chip away at our efforts to work toward justice in this world.

Our differences have been used to divide us instead of unite us, so consequently we reside in a society where human brokenness, isolation, and betrayal are played out every day.

I know that the struggle against racism that King talked about is only legitimate if I am also fighting anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism, classism - not only out in the world but also in myself. Otherwise, I am creating an ongoing cycle of abuse that goes on unexamined and unaccounted for.

We are foolish if we think we can heal the world and not ourselves. And we delude ourselves if we think that King was only talking about the woundedness of institutional racism, and not the personal wounds we all carry as human beings.

Ironically, our culture of woundedness and victimization has bonded us together in brokenness. The sharing of worlds to depict and honor our pain has created a new language of intimacy, a bonding ritual that allows us to talk across and among our pains. In exploring our common wounds, we sometimes feel more able to find the trust and the understanding that eludes us as "healthy" people.

When we bond in these unhealthy ways we miss opportunities in ourselves for moral leadership, and to work collaboratively with others to effect change in seemingly small ways that eventually lead to big outcomes.

Both Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. were leaders in the Montgomery bus boycott that challenged Alabama's Jim Crow laws. Both were working together for a desired outcome, and they could not have done it without the other.

Had Rosa Parks not sat down on the bus and refused her seat to a white man that day in December 1955, King could not have gotten up to promulgate a social gospel, which catapulted the civil rights movement.

Each year, I mark the Martin Luther King holiday by reexamining myself in light of King's teachings. And in so doing, I try to uncover not only the ways in which the world breaks me, but also how it breaks other people. These breaks keep us fractured instead of united toward a common goal - a multicultural democracy.
I believe that when we use our gifts in the service of others as King has taught us, we then shift the paradigm of personal brokenness to personal healing. We also shift the paradigm of looking for moral leadership from outside of ourselves to within ourselves, thus realizing that we are not only the agents of change in society, but also the moral leaders we have been looking for.


Our job, therefore, in keeping King's dream alive is to remember that our longing for social justice is also inextricably tied to our longing for personal healing.

SOURCE: THE BILERICO PROJECT

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