Human rights advocate Martin Luther King III discussed the ideal “beloved community” during his Sept. 28 forum address.
King said the concept of a “beloved community” was conceived by philosopher and theologian Josiah Royce and promoted by his father, Martin Luther King Jr.
He described the “beloved community” as a space of social equity and belonging, peace and freedom from prejudice. This aspirational community will not simply manifest itself, however. “All of us must become outspoken champions, not only of tolerance and ‘live and let live’ philosophy,” King said. “We must also serve our communities as champions of brotherhood and sisterhood.”
King shared three primary ways individuals and communities can harbor harmony and inclusion in the pursuit of the “beloved community.” These included embracing the concepts of a unified human family, non-violent protest and leadership, and powerful, spiritual service.
Leadership is not limited to the famous, or well-known, King said. He discussed the perception many hold that there are no more leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., his father.
“My father was once a young person with many of the same dreams and insecurities young people have today,” King said. “But he worked hard and prepared himself in a way that he was able to answer when history called.”
King expressed his belief that all can and should spearhead action for social reform. “Leadership means you step up to create a better world,” he said.
Nonviolence is a key characteristic of the “beloved community,” a practice King noted as a hallmark of his father’s civil rights efforts. Nonviolence is not only a mechanism for social change, King said, but a mechanism for personal transformation that will bring a “greater sense of wholeness and meaning in your lives.”
Service, King said, is another primary responsibility for all members of the ideal “beloved community.” “Service is a powerful healing force that builds bridges of hope, trust and kindness over gulfs of alienation and distrust.”
He went on to explain the value of service as a vehicle for social and personal change. He pointed out the accessibility of service, noting that all can serve regardless of educational, social and financial status.
King concluded his address by passionately urging all to take action in social and civil reform.
“The torch of leadership is being passed to your generation,” King said. “And the world is counting on you to light the way forward to a brighter future.”