Each year around the time of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday I celebrate his life and works by revisiting one of his essays, speeches or sermons. I spend time with the document, trying to come to a deeper understanding of Dr. King's state of heart and mind, and the prophetic message he is sending.
This year I chose The World House, having read it before, and finding it the perfect choice for Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action's January events honoring Dr. King. After all, here we are so many years since Dr. King wrote this essay, and we have a long way to go in reaching the goals he has set for us. The very walls that hold up our World House are weakening, due in large part to the actions of the U.S. in the world. Carol Bragg, in the introduction to The World House at thinkoutword.org, sums it up best (for me):
In “The World House,” Dr. King calls us to: 1) transcend tribe, race, class, nation, and religion to embrace the vision of a World House; 2) eradicate at home and globally the Triple Evils of racism, poverty, and militarism; 3) curb excessive materialism and shift from a “thing”-oriented society to a “people”-oriented society; and 4) resist social injustice and resolve conflicts in the spirit of love embodied in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. He advocates a Marshall Plan to eradicate global poverty, a living wage, and a guaranteed minimum annual income for every American family. He urges the United Nations to experiment with the use of nonviolent direct action in international conflicts. The final paragraph warns of the “fierce urgency of now” and cautions that this may be the last chance to choose between chaos and community.I hope you, too, will read The World House as a fitting meditation honoring Dr. King, and that you find something for your journey. May it move you just a little bit out of your comfort zone and may you find new ways to help build The World House.
The World House
by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Some years ago a famous novelist died. Among his papers was found a list of suggested plots for future stories, the most prominently underscored being this one: “A widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together.” This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a large house, a great “world house” in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Hindu—a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.
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