Yesterday I went to a massive celebration of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The point was not only to honor the victories of the civil rights movement, but also to remind us of what needs to be done right now to bend the “moral arcs” of our communities toward greater racial and economic justice.
In his struggle, MLK, along with so many others, beautifully linked the racial divisions in our country with the tradition of prophetic critique in the Bible, which called out the sad human tendency toward injustice in the name of something better. The Hebrew prophets called that something better God’s justice, or righteousness, or “ways” – a radical claim that something at the core of not only our selves but also the universe itself “wants” there to be less meanness in human affairs. In the Gospels it’s called the “Kingdom of God,” a phrase that rings weird today but signifies a surprising reordering of things – where something lovelier than might makes right. King called it the Beloved Community.
I’ve thought a lot about why the issues that MLK was increasingly turning to near the end of his life, issues of poverty and economic inequality, still seem so hard to imagine getting better. One reason, I think, is that we’ve been convinced economics is mostly about concepts that are too difficult for the average person to comprehend, distant from our guts and hunches about the way things ought to be. Best left to experts.
What if those hunches are to be trusted? What if we trust our hunch that even one person going hungry or suffering indignity is a violation of some deep truth of the universe? And what if we trust our hunch that there’s something that needs to change with a society that allows that to happen on an enormous scale?
Root and Branch is a passionate attempt to bring a different kind of community into being, and we don’t want it to stop at the edges of our dinner table. In the months ahead, we’ll be thinking about ways we can grow even deeper roots and make our communities more beloved. Please be in touch if you’re interested in being involved in smaller conversations about how to make that happen!