I received a message from the Peace Alliance that contained the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said
“We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is no question we are in this together. whether “we” refers to two people in relationship to a family, groups of people, a nation, or our species. In this time of self-reflection, I choose not to look to others to become who they ought to be before I focus on being who I ought to be, despite the fact that I will not fully succeed until we all succeed. This is my gift to myself and to others, even to those who do not yet know the beauty of focusing on being who they ought to be.
In the turbulent years of the 1960s, I lived a secluded life, generally unaware of what was happening in the world that did not directly impact my life. I recall the day that Dr. King was assassinated. At that time, I was unaware of the depth of Dr. KIng’s contribution to the nation, to the world. On that April day in 1968, another in a series of days that shocked the world back then, I do recall the speculations about King being involved with a woman other than his wife, perhaps near the time of his death, and I focused on my assessment of him being who he ought not to be instead of noticing all he did to be who he ought to be, including his invitation for us to be who we ought to be, as well.
It took a long time for me to understand that many of those who made great contributions to expanding the consciousness of our humanity had a shadow side. And, it would be easy to dismiss the good by focusing on the not so good. But despite the shadow, these contributions have supported us all in becoming more of who we ought to be. Though we have not, yet, arrived at perfection, most of us, at least, can vision something of what perfection might look like because of these people who embodied light and despite the dark that was there, too.
Even in the expression of their shadow, the not-yet perfect-contributors give us permission to notice the shadow side that is all too often unacknowledged and hidden deeply within us. Once we become aware of the vision of perfection and the shadows that we carry we can bring healing to the darkness within us and become more of who we ought to be: our gift to ourselves and a gift to others.
King was so correct when he said, “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny.” It cannot be any other way. Let us take this day to see the beauty of the garment of destiny that lives within the hearts of every one of us.