"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
In a few days the Occupy Movement will be engaging in global actions centered around the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The heart of Dr. King’s vision offers wonderful inspiration for the movement – one that is deeply rooted in love. King’s approach to activism was all about “love in action.”
The activists of the civil rights era faced incredible repression and brutality, yet remained firm in their conviction to love, their conviction to non-violence. This gave them tremendous “moral capital.” Violence, as an activist tactic, very rarely is successful. It is speaking the language of the opressor, and they respond with even greater violence. But the images of loving activists in contrast to brutality, is poignant, moving and transformative. It opens the hearts of the undecided, and calls them to join in the quest for justice. Those who seek to undermine the Occupy Movement, or any activist movement, invariably point to acts of violence.
King taught that while legislative changes were important, such as desegregation (a focal point for the movement at that time), unless we also change our hearts and minds, we would end up with, ”a society where men are physically desegregated and spiritually segregated, where elbows are together and hearts apart. It gives us social togetherness and spiritual apartness. It leaves us with a stagnant equality of sameness rather than a constructive equality of oneness.” He beautifully said that, “we are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
Dr. King’s greatest vision was that the world would come together in a “Beloved Community.” The civil rights movement represented an attempt to created that Beloved Community in microcosm. Today, within the Occupy Movement, we can also create this kind of community, founded on compassion, non-violence and mutuality. This is turn can help lead to the tipping point, towards that day when we are able to live in a world that works for everyone. King’s profound dream was to enlarge “the concept of brotherhood to a vision of total interrelatedness.” If he were alive today, I believe he would have recognized the incredible potential of this remarkable time in history.
By remaining firmly grounded in love, we are practicing “prefigurative politics.” Instead of waiting for some far off dream of a peaceful, loving world, we are living it, right now, in real time. The principles of participatory democracy, central to the Occupy Movement, allow us to practice a world where everyone is important. Having a leaderless movement is also a radical step – we all are leaders today.
Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has said that in this era, “the Buddha is the Sangha.” This means, the community is the new Buddha. It’s time for us all to wake up, and tap into our collective wisdom. We are moving beyond the top down hierarchal structures that have dominated all areas of life in the past – from politics to spirituality, from culture to economics. It’s time for a new era, an era of shared power, of horizontality. This is the way ecosystems work – complex webs of systems within systems, supporting, nurturing each other in webs of checks and balances. It’s time that we integrate fully into the planetary body, recognize our profound inter-connection, striving always towards mutually enhancing relationships.
The field of possibility expands exponentially each time anyone of us truly steps up to the plate, and opens our hearts. How joyous, to live the realization that the greater the brilliance of any one of us, the greater is the radiance of the whole. We can go beyond that outdated dog eat dog eat dog isolating, disconnecting model of the corporatocracy, into a new world, where we care for each other in networks of compassion. Let us truly, deeply, authentically occupy the dream, the dream of a world that works for all life, where each and everyone of us is a shining star in a constellation of love.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Upcoming MLK Occupy Events
WORLD WIDE CANDLELIGHT VIGIL FOR UNITY
This January 15th all over the world, Occupy is holding a #J15 Worldwide Candlelight Vigil For Unity on the birthday, and in the spirit of Dr. King’s vision for racial and economic equality, peace, and non-violence. Candlelight vigils will take place at 7pm in each time zone to unite our world in a global movement for systemic change.
Wherever you are, let’s join together and light our flames for this beautiful vision. Be creative – you can create your own vigil if you can’t find one near you. Learn more at http://www.j15global.com/
Studio Occupy has a wonderful project related to this: “To honor Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday, Occupy Wall Street is privileged to welcome African-American clergy as they join the movement to address economic inequality and social injustice. Dr. King’s dream made history. Now OWS needs yours! What’s your dream for your community? For the future? Grab your phone or webcam, make a video of your dream, and upload it by January 16th – Dr. King’s birthday. We can create history together. Let’s Occupy the Dream!” Learn more at: Studio Occupy
REBUILD THE DREAM
Van Jones, one of my all time visionary activist heroes, who is featured in Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action , has launched an initiative called “Rebuild the Dream.” This weekend, for MLK day, they are calling for meet-ups acrsos the country to celebrate Dr. King and link the Civil Rights Movement with today’s struggle for an economy that works for all. Neighbors and friends will gather to watch the great video they have created, plus engage in a special discussion about how we strengthen our movements in 2012. Find an MLK Meet-up near you, or host one of your own.