Here are some excerpts from the remarks I offered at Watertown’s Unity Breakfast on MLK Day. Thanks to the organizers, speakers, and especially the young people (such as the students above, who are explaining their amazing murals). It was a great event.
On Wednesday of last week, I drove about 20 miles on city streets in my car. I visited a public library and a bank. I ate in a restaurant here in Watertown. I went for a walk in my neighborhood.
At no point was I worried about being pulled over by the police. My choice to be out walking was not affected by fear of a stray bullet. Everyone I interacted with at the library, the bank, and the restaurant looked me in the eye and treated me kindly. I had enough money to put gas in my car, order a BLT, and pay a library fine. I had a paycheck to deposit.
My Wednesday was made possible by privlege. I have privledge that many others do not have: the color of my skin, my education, my American citizenship, my native language being English, and more. Privlege is power – power that I can use for myself, power that I can use to help change systems, power that I can pretend doesn’t exist or I can acknowledge and use to undermine, uproot, and unearth whatever is standing in the way of all the beautiful people of this earth having rights and freedoms, opportunity and justice…..
In his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, King famously wrote, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
The calling that King left us when he was killed was to see that inescapable network of mutuality not as a burden, but as a joy, a wonderful gift. We become more fully ourselves as we build a world where all are free to thrive. We each become more beautifully human when we honor and protect the dignity of every human person. We are enriched and enlivened when our song reflects the fullest range of human experience.
At a time in our nation’s history when many are loudly and shrilly calling for less mutuality, when some are working to shred that single garment of destiny or deny it’s existence, let us weave a love that includes all.