Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti & MLK: A Network Of Mutuality

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied
in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
While the tragedy in Haiti unfolds across the screens of my TV and PC appearing to worsen by the hour, I'm reminded of the "inescapable network of mutuality" that binds us all together. It moves us to provide comfort and try to ease the suffering in any way possible. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that this impulse towards empathy was an innately human characteristic, one that needed to be fostered and cherished. He believed it held the key our collective moral code and in Lincoln's memorable phrase, revealed "the better angels of our nature."

It was the cornerstone of King's faith in non-violent resistance handed down from Gandhi - suffering awakens our awareness that "whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." This was something that come to him through sacrifice and hardship - in other words, through applying his beliefs in the field of deeds. As he lay in a jail in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 he wrote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." He was jailed for believing that all people are equal, that all are worthy of dignity and justice.

MLK arrested in 1956 for the Montgomery Bus Boycott
As the U.S. marks King's birthday this Monday January 18th, the people of Haiti need not just empathy, but deeds.