By Marco Grimaldo
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. often wrote and spoke about his vision of a Beloved Community, which emphasizes connectedness and care for one another over individuality. King's view was that by nature, humans are social and consequently we need one another. He once said “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” I couldn’t agree more.
Lately, I find myself yearning for King’s Beloved Community more deeply than ever. I have been both saddened and angered by the news of violence and hatred at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the mosque in Joplin, Missouri, and the recent shootings in Washington, D.C. and New York City. I want to find a way to respond to what I perceive as an increasing separation from my sisters and brothers, and a declining emphasis on community and interconnectedness.
Still, I think there is hope. Just look at how we rally to support one another in difficult times. After the shooting in Wisconsin, people of faith in Richmond joined the Sikh community for a candlelight vigil on the grounds of the Capitol and that Sunday I attended prayers at the Richmond Gurdwara. I was seated between Imam Ammar on one side and a leader from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the other. Later in the week I prayed with Muslims in Richmond and Dulles as they celebrated Ramadan and came together for an interfaith Iftar meal. I don’t mean to suggest that these gatherings in any way balance the pain and anger resulting from tragedy. Rather I think they offer a way of dealing with tragedy and helping to build a stronger community for the future.
It is worth noting that King’s vision of community is offered in the context of a struggle for social and economic justice. I believe that building community is, in part, about working for the common good and strengthening our capacity to respond to challenges as a society. What do you believe? How are you connected to the struggle for social justice and community?
The vision of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is a world where people of all faiths cooperate to create compassionate communities that are just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable. And together we work to bring about social justice for all by advocating for systemic change. Every time you speak up for the poor or call your delegate to protect the rights of your neighbor, you help build the Beloved Community, and this, more than anything, gives me hope.