Reflection on the dream of Martin Luther King
“The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage they did not know they had. Finally it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
How can we promote the vision of peace, equality, and nonviolence to which Martin Luther King gave his heart, soul, and life? What strength and courage do we need to bring about the dream that Dr. King envisioned?
An important issue for the Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates is our criminal justice system and the work to abolish the death penalty. In her book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander describes the new racism supported under the guise of the war on drugs in which young African American youth, particularly young black men, are disproportionately pipelined into the prison system where they become victims of an unjust legal system that destroys their future. A felony sentence stops them from receiving any social services, makes it impossible to find employment, and disrupts every possibility for a successful future.
The Indiana Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is committed to work to end the death penalty which is violent, racially discriminatory, and random often resulting in errors in trials and executions. The Sisters of Providence have taken a corporate stand against the Death Penalty.
The Congregation Peace with Justice Committee asks you to envision how you can co-create a more just and equitable world which King dreamt and Jesus proclaimed. Each one of us is essential in furthering the mission of Providence in our world through the example of love, mercy, and justice followed by Jesus and Dr. King.
How can we as a people of faith, interdependent on each other, bring our world more in line with the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King who called for inner conversion, and to gather inner strength and courage to face the violence in our society? With our Provident God, all things are possible.
As we pray the Litany of Nonviolence, let us pray for conversion of heart: Provident God, aware of my own brokenness, we ask for the gift of courage to identify how and where we are in need of conversion in order to live in solidarity with earth and all creation.
The dream and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King are still possible. God is calling us to continue this dream within our hearts, within our communities, and within our world. May we join with Martin Luther King in crying out, “Free at Last, Free at Last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!”
“O God, we thank you for the lives of great saints and prophets in the past, who have revealed to us that we can stand up amid the problems and difficulties and trials of life and not give in. We thank you for our fore parents, who’ve given us something in the midst of the darkness of exploitation and oppression to keep going. Grant that we will go on with the proper faith and the proper determination of will, so that we will be able to make a creative contribution to this world. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray.” ~Martin Luther King Jr. from “Thou, Dear God: Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits, by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for your vision, dream, and commitment to nonviolence.