The Beloved Community: Dr. King's Insight for Peaceful Living

By Doyeon Park
Jan/16/2016

This blog post originally appeared on the Huffingtonpost. 

Living in New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the world, we often focus on how different we are: different race, culture, language, faith, sexual orientation and etc. Yes, we all look different on the outside and we are unalike to some extent. But we need to know that 'different doesn't mean wrong.' We need to remember that in spite of all differences, we can still find something that we share together: our shared dream of peace and justice.

Speaking of dream, peace and justice, I think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of my inspirations. The more I learn about his life, the deeper my admiration for him becomes. My greatest respect goes to his genuine heart and strong commitment to his practice of nonviolence. When we face challenges and conflicts caused by social injustice, discrimination, or violence, it's easy for us to get angry, depressed and to blame others. However Dr. King chose nonviolence and love to respond to the challenges of his era. He envisioned the Beloved Community where we can be different and yet live a peaceful life based on nonviolence, reconciliation, love and justice.

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Dr. King's Beloved Community was not devoid of interpersonal, group or international conflict. Instead he recognized that conflict was an inevitable part of human experience. But he believed that conflicts could be resolved peacefully and adversaries could be reconciled through a mutual, determined commitment to nonviolence. No conflict, he believed, need erupt in violence. And all conflicts in The Beloved Community should end with reconciliation of adversaries cooperating together in a spirit of friendship and goodwill. -The King Center

I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensifies the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love. - Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957

What an inspiration! I can't think of any faith that would disagree with Dr. King's words. At least, I can speak from my Buddhist tradition that "Yes! It is love that overcomes hate and anger."

Hatred never ends through hatred.
By non-hate alone does it end.
This is an ancient Truth. (The Dhammapada #5, Translated by Gil Fronsdal)

Conquer anger with non-anger;
Conquer wickedness with goodness;
Conquer stinginess with giving,
And a liar with truth. (The Dhammapada #223, Translated by Gil Fronsdal)

I believe Dr. King's vision of the beloved community was for all humanity. We are living in the most multicultural and diverse society in history. For our peaceful coexistence, now, it is not an option but necessity to learn and practice love. Dr. King once said, "We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools." I hope that we all choose to live together and become an instrument for positive changes.