Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. represents the "New Man" of the American Promise. Not only was he a great leader: community organizer, pastor, nonviolent activist, orator, and writer: but he was also a visionary of both our human and American possibilities. Challenging us to unite our religion with our politics through a dynamic activation of the Universal Principle of Love, Rev. King became an exemplar of hope and change: victims no longer, every person has within her the power to become extraordinary through service for justice.
"Be changed through the renewal of your minds" -- advice from St. Paul -- could summarize Rev. King's advice to each one of us. Like the Buddha's, "As you think, so you become", this will to change our habits of thought is the real (and only) beginning of personal transformation and social change. Too many of us succumb to a "victim spirituality" in every sense of the phrase: from "I have nothing going for me" to "Jesus died for me"... victimhood through and through! Instead, there is another way through the renewal of our minds: affirm: "I am strong and capable" and "Together we make every good thing possible"... and on into a new spirituality of identifying with the bliss of an interior communion with the Unlimited Love Who is Source and Liberator...
For Rev. King, civil rights activism infused his mind with the renewal of an activated Love: from confronting the social manifestations of racism, to understanding the systemic connections between injustice and violence, King progressed in his ability to reveal the "New Man" of the American promise: from a Constitution that considered the black man as less than a full man -- and women unworthy of even a word or a second thought -- to the end of slavery and women finally being considered worthy of the right to vote... on into our on-going struggle for equal rights for everyone -- illuminated now with the focused light of a "Personalist" politics and spirituality... Rev. King's last great struggle was to unite the civil rights movement with the peace movement in a "March on Washington" that would expand both into a new movement for economic justice: it was at this precise moment in time that he was assassinated: the "uppity Negro" had finally gone too far...
Ah, but the catch was neither the FBI nor the racist, neither the right-wing and John Birch Society nor the rich capitalist, could snuff out Rev. King's ability to survive: he still refuses to self-identify as a victim! Anyone who thinks that King stands as a sculpture in the National Mall must never have read his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" or any of his other writings or sermons. Rev. King is the Liberated Person of the American Promise: liberated in his ability to forgive and to press forward in his demands for full equality, social justice for everyone, and peace in our human relations: this he called "Beloved Community". While the best the right-wing here in America and elsewhere around the world can offer us is the freedom to suffer together in poverty, inequality, oppression, exploitation, and violence... we are awakening into the power of the renewal of our minds: we are free the moment that we recognize our freedom. We are equal the moment we demand our rights and refuse to back down again into silence and acceptance. We are powerful in the activation of our wills to compassion and service: lifting every other up into community and communion: the Middle East, Detroit, and the South Texas border: we are all one: screwed by the Dominator Paradigm, we must recognize our complicity with their means and ends: and truly rEvolutionize!
We are all -- each and every one of us -- worth the very best: we are each and all worthy of infinite and unlimited Love. We need to recreate our minds into becoming vehicles of grace through the practice of kindness. We need to unite to transform all power and privilege to everyone's service and liberation. We need to create -- here and now, wherever we are living -- small centers of an activated light for building the "beloved community"... Ha! They thought that by killing Rev. King they would intimidate his messengers and eliminate his message: "they" might be a police officer, "they" might be a right-winger, or "they" might be a billionaire: none of them can say or become what we can say, and who we are: we are, each one of us: King! "Libertarians", hell! We choose instead: we are all "Kings"! And we shall still overcome!
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.