Reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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“Together we can and should unite our strength for the wise preservation, not of races in general, but of the one race we all constitute – the human race.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

It is a day to celebrate peace, love and standing up for what you believe in – Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  A man who brought people together for civil causes in a civil way.  A man whose eloquence we so often quote, like I have done above.  That quote is from 1966, and it is just as relevant today.  It is time for our country, our planet, to stop the hateful judgments and “us vs. them” mentality, and realize we are more alike than different.

The article below has some beautiful quotes as well as a succinct way of discussing judgment and how we can come together.  I suggest spending some time in personal reflection to discover how your words and actions can be embracing and empathetic.  What our world needs today is peace and love, and I ask that it begin with you.

What’s needed is a deepened commitment to contact what has been unconscious. It’s the unconscious stuff that grabs our sense of identity and ends up controlling our lives both individually and societally. The challenge to making this honest contact is that we get waylaid by our judgments, our views, our stereotypes, our “blues” and “reds.” Contacting our real feelings requires becoming conscious of ways we create distance.

Charles Eisenstein writes: “Next time you post online, check your words to see if they smuggle in some form of hate, dehumanization, snark, belittling, division—some invitation to ‘us versus them.’ Notice how it feels kind of good to do that, like getting a fix; and notice what hurts underneath and how it doesn’t feel good, not really. Maybe it is time to stop.”

It’s so easy to fall back on the more primitive mode of judging. About eight years ago I made the commitment that, when I caught myself judging, I would pause to practice looking inside myself with mindfulness and compassion. I ask what’s going on inside whenever I am in some way (and it is usually pretty subtle) putting down another person. If we stay in that mentality of blame and “us versus them,” we don’t get down to real feelings and, under them, the space of caring.

To get there, we have to open from judgments and we have to take the time to be with what is right here inside us. We have to go through all the layers of our collective hurts and fears and grieving before we can get to that very pure, timeless loving, that consciousness we want to live out of.

Margaret Wheatley has said, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” The path to discovering that care requires our collective courage: we need to move from belief in the certainty and sureness of our judgments, and open to the groundlessness of fears. It is only in opening to this vulnerability that we are able to inhabit our caring fully.

Rumi talks about “night-travelers” who turn towards the darkness and are willing to know their own fear. He says:
Sit with your friends.
Don’t go back to sleep.
Life’s waters flow from darkness.
Search the darkness. Don’t run from it.
Night-travelers are full of light; and you are, too.
Don’t leave this companionship.

This is the Bodhisattva path; and we are all on it. We may have different levels of self-awareness, but we are all on it. Everyone wants to love and be loved; everyone wants to live more fully. Our path is to bravely open to the darkness of fears. Our path is to awaken together, to nourish the life waters of wisdom and caring, and to bring healing to our world.

From: “Play a Greater Part” – Part 1 – Bodhisattva for Our Times (link is external) – a talk given by Tara Brach on November 16, 2016.


Margaret Wheatley, “Turning to One Another,” Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (2009) Berrett-Koehler Publishers (link is external)

Rumi, “Search the Darkness,” Love Is a Stranger Selected Lyric Poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi, Translated by Kabir Helminski, Shambhala, 04/2000.


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