Justice in the Beloved Community

“A [person] dies when [s/he] refuses to stand up for justice.”1

The NorcalMLK Foundation’s theme for the 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration season is Justice in the Beloved Community.

The impact of the year 2016 has many feeling deep despair about the future of our communities, our nation, and our world.   But King believed that “[w]ith patient and firm determination…every valley of despair [can be] exalted to new peaks of hope, [and] every mountain of pride and irrationality [can be] made low by the levelling process of humility and compassion.”2

This belief was not born of a naive optimism, but of a studied method of authentic engagement with others as ‘persons’3,4 and in his examination of and experience with non-violent direct action.  He thought “the only way to reestablish a broken community”5 was by appealing to the conscience of the nation through persuasive argument and direct peaceful protest.6

This 2017 season may carry the uneasy winds of shifting politics, society, and economy and a fear of the return to a past era of intolerance and despair.  But, we must continue to give voice to the things that matter by calling on ourselves and all persons in public office and in private life to “seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly”7  with our neighbor and with the divine that is within each of us.

For in the deep abyss of confusion and pain there is hope:  that vast, abiding spring of energy born of the need for a just community “at peace with itself.”8

A Beloved Community.



1. Additions my own. Precise quote: “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice.”
2. Additions my own. Precise quote: “With patient and firm determination we will press on until every valley of despair is exalted to new peaks of hope, until every mountain of pride and irrationality is made low by the levelling process of humility and compassion;…” See Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, University of Oslo, December 11, 1964.
3. Rufus Burrow notes that personalism “is the view that reality is personal and persons are the highest…intrinsic values…Person is the supreme philosophical principle without which no other principle can be made intelligible. The type of Personalism…which prompted King to claim it as his fundamental philosophical standpoint maintains the the universe is a society of interacting and intercommunicating selves and persons with God at the center. Personalism provided for King a philosophical framework to support his long held belief in a personal God; the idea of the absolute dignity and worth of persons; and his belief in the existence of an objective moral order.” For more information see Rufus Burrow’s “Martin Luther King, Jr., Personalism, and Moral Law“, The Asbury Theological Journal, Volume 52, Number 2; Louisville, Asbury Theological Seminary; 1997, p. 28.
4. King studied the philosophy of Personalism at Boston University under the influence of Edgar S. Brightman and L. Harold DeWolf. For more information see Rufus Burrow’s “Martin Luther King, Jr., Personalism, and Moral Law“, The Asbury Theological Journal, Volume 52, Number 2; Louisville, Asbury Theological Seminary; 1997, pp. 27-42.
5. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, University of Oslo, December 11, 1964.
6. For more information see Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, University of Oslo, December 11, 1964.
7. Micah 6:8 (English Standard Version)
8. See Footnote 6.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *