Where do we go from here–chaos or community?
That was the central question Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to answer in his final book bearing that title.
He used the word “we”—not “I,” not “me,” not “you.” We.
The book was his central case for hopefulness, for continued nonviolent actions, for a moral movement that brought people together across race, class, and party lines for economic justice. And to me, his final written work is a case for finding common ground and building community in order to get that more perfect union in which we all aspire to live.
These past few weeks have me thinking a lot about how far away we are from that more perfect union. There is very little community and a whole lot of chaos.
Politicians and citizens of all stripes will no doubt use this Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday to call for unity and forgiveness and compassion. And E Pluribus Unum will always welcome folks to the table of finding common ground. After all, a house divided against itself cannot stand, and to heal our divisions we must be able to hear each other, see each other, understand each other.
But we must also make clear that there can be no reconciliation without truth and accountability. Reconciliation will not come until White Americans reckon with our past, our current privilege, institutional, systemic racism and the role we all play in this country’s divide.
This is a time for choosing. To choose truth and hard conversations over pacification of those seeking to rip us apart. To choose nonviolent protest over violence and white supremacy. To choose the moral movement of equal justice and opportunity for all.
The struggle for justice wasn’t born and didn’t die with Dr. King; he was a fellow traveler and witness on history’s road to freedom and a better world.
We are not only the heirs of his legacy, we are its stewards. It is in our care. We are responsible. We can get there, but only if we go from here choosing each other. If we make that choice to start to listen rather than speak and to see rather than to look away, we will choose community over chaos.
Where do we go from here? That’s for each of us to answer this day.
Founder & President