Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be”. This comes from one of the greatest men of the 20th century, a personal role model and someone who used his God-given gifts as a catalyst for change during a time when many had already lost hope.
In this day and age, we are in dire need of community, where many of us (including myself) experience the lives of others through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter we find ourselves isolated growing our number of “followers” rather than growing our number of relationships. And so we are in need of freedom fighters, warriors, trailblazers, people who want to stand side by side and do the dirty work it takes to change the world and reconnect us. Dr. King was clear, if each individual serves and blesses those around them by personally being a part of their lives, we will inevitably bare the fruit for which the next generations can nourish themselves. Community means engaging with people in their times of joy and sorrow. We have been trained to remind ourselves community emerges in the in the aftermath of tragedy. September 11th, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Tamir Rice, Hurricane Katrina, Virginia Tech, Paris Attacks, and on and on and on. This leaves me with the question, “Why do I wait until I feel humanity being threatened before I engage with others and show support?”
I drive past a male pan handler every day on my way home from Cleveland, OH to Akron, OH. Every day I see him holding a sign that says, “Help… 3 kids, No Job…in need of prayer”. Every day I see him and every day I do 2 things, avoid eye contact or speed through the intersection to ensure I do not have to sit at the red light staring at my phone to avoid eye contact. I feel shame even now as I type for I too wait for the “Earth Shaking” tragedies I learn about through social media to respond to the world exclaiming, “WE ARE COMMUNITY!” Here is the reality, the male pan handler is as much a part of my community in Akron, OH as LeBron James. What if I took the time to create a relationship with this man and took him out to lunch, asked about his family, asked about how he got to this point in his life, and I don’t know…actually prayed for him!
As I write this I’m once again realizing we are all fighting a battle, some are visible while others are not. My duty as a member of a community is to offer my gifts, talents and resources to assist in the battles I can see and have grace and patience for the ones I cannot see.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who was after more than just equal rights for African Americans. He looked for a nation that would come together as a great community, where if one man was failing we are all failing and if we all lift up that man, we all succeed.
“I have a dream that one day…one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers”.