Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Inescapable Network of Mutuality

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King penning his seminal civil rights plea, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Originally addressed to a group of white church leaders in the south who questioned his actions, King's words are every bit as relevant and convicting to us today. When those who claim that all people are created in the image of God can stand idly by as others are being oppressed, it is often the product of ignorance or lack of perspective. King understands this, and rather than angrily respond with righteous indignation(which he surely could have) he first invites us in to the pain of his personal plight, then guides us through scriptural examples and insight from early church fathers. In this letter we not only gain perspective on the reality of racism in our country, we see the heart of a man whose leadership was shaped by the founders of our faith. Dr. King writes with the wisdom of Solomon, the poetry of David and the prison pleas of Paul. The end result brings the reader to a place of conviction and personal decision. 
"I am in Birmingham because injustice is here... I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider..."
Perhaps most of all, I am shocked that this was written only a half century ago. I wonder what his thoughts would be on the current state of race relations in America.  I encourage you to take a moment and read it today. You'll be glad you did.

Read the letter in its entirety here: Letters from a Birmingham Jail 

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