Do you know what seems unfair and bizarre? That those who are oppressed must change things, the ones who are the weakest in society, the ones who have been betrayed, belittled, and bullied. Personal, heart truth gives the motivation, courage, and perseverance to go on. Eventually, the privileged may come to help, but that doesn’t matter to those who live their purpose and truth.
Dr. King made commitments to causes he chose, invested in, and proved to be borne from the depths of his own heart. When we discover others working in the same heart-energy, we are brought to a place of fellowship and working together. We resonate and achieve significant goals.
When we do such, we shine a light on haters, and we expose those who work in the energy of ego to maintain control, wealth, and power to oppress others. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote this letter from a prison cell, one which he was placed in through an unjust application of a beneficial law. From that cell, he shined the light of love and reconciliation on an ego-controlled society, which was evident from the ugly racism of that time.
Martin Luther King’s Primary Objective in His “Letter from the Birmingham City Jail”: Peace and Brotherhood (and Sisterhood, equally!)
Dr. King doesn’t forget why he began this letter, and near the end, he continues to answer the troubling accusations of the letter that the white clergymen wrote. This response required intensive, sensitive thought because, more than anything, he loves others. However, he sheds light on the facts and exposes ego-energy that manifested hatred.
Some of the last rays of the light of this letter fall on those “keeping ‘order’ and ‘preventing violence,’” the police force (King 18). Those officers of the law — a stacked, racist, bigoted, hateful set of laws — acted in unjustified brutality that included unprovoked attacks by police dogs, shoving, slapping, and kicking old ladies and young girls, and refusing people food in jail. They starved the protesting prisoners because they forbid them to pray. These things and others, King will not praise; he only shows the facts in love, exposing the filth of unchecked, unreasonable minds fueled by ego.
He points out what oppressed people often experience: when the eyes of the public or media are on unfair, brutal, egocentric authorities, they appear to be in control and put on a show of compassion, supposedly for all concerned. Dr. King’s main point here is that brutality is never justified in handling others because “it is worn to use immoral means to attain moral ends…they have used the moral means of [apparent] nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of flagrant racial injustice” (King 19). Any authority who hides behind unjust laws and carries them out, especially with brutality or inhumanity, should not be allowed to hold their positions.
At the end of this paragraph, Dr. King quotes T. S. Eliot: “…there is no greater treason than to do the right deed for the wrong reason” (King 19). I take that sentiment into the depths of my being. Neither I nor authorities — presidents, police, legislators, ICE, border patrol, educators — have the right to violate the basic laws of nature or the rights and freedoms embedded in each human being.
Treating souls with degradation and inhumanity always marks Ego-energy. Each Heart loves and finds a way to deal in truth and care for fellow souls. As Dr. King nears the close of this masterpiece, he takes care to reveal those who did Heart-work, masterpieces themselves. Who were they?
Choosing to create society and govern by Heart means taking action. It will be powerful when we can get past Ego ignorance of white supremacy, hardcore nationalism, embedded racism, etc. and dig into mutually fruitful issues. (Photo by History in HD on Unsplash)MartinThe “real heroes…James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose, facing jeering and hostile mobs…old, oppressed, battered Negro women…who rose up with a sense of dignity…young high school and college students, young ministers…and a host of their elders courageously and non-violently sitting-in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience sake” (King 19, 20). In other words, these were those whose hearts committed to their truth and acted on it, no matter the cost.
No money, no power connections, no degrees required. They only lived their heart-truth. We all can do this in whatever our created purpose is. When we live our core Self in love and light, we know significance, fulfillment, and personal peace. Quite often, we change the world, at least our little piece of it, and find we are involved in things much larger than ourselves.
Dr. King recognizes this: “One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream…carrying our whole nation back to…the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence” (King 20). I would say that living a heart-truth by sitting down at a lunch counter and finding a connection with the founding documents of this nation is, indeed, something larger than ourselves.
Heart-truth sometimes needs to be lived in oppressive situations. Referring to the length of the letter, he says, “I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk” (King 20) instead of a jail cell. Our heart within finds a way to make meaning when we open up to our highest self.
We can find a way to express love and light in whatever capacity we choose — a pastor, a police officer, a politician, a teacher, a mechanic, an artist, a writer, a dancer, a jeweler, a clerk, a salesperson, or any of thousands upon thousands of endeavors empowered by Heart.
Then, Dr. King lays out his accountability. If the white clergymen he addresses find offense, he asks forgiveness of them, his fellow creatures. However, his largest accountability is to his own heart and his own God: “If I have said anything…that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of my having a patience that makes me patient with anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me” (King 20). Brotherhood — that’s a greater concept than integration, and Dr. King ends by acknowledging such.
In the final paragraph, he illustrates this unequivocally to those he considers to be his brothers, no matter how they feel about him or the issue of race: “I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader, but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother” (King 20). Brotherhood — a mutuality bound not in gender, Sisterhood being just as integral — is the goal and the hope.
This is that which I call the fellowship of the heart. Those sold out to their own ego are in the majority, and they are not to be judged — exposed, yes, but not judged. Those who don’t answer heart within them will not know the blessing of this fellowship, and perhaps that is the ultimate judgment.
Dr. King ends with an estimation of the value of this: “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted…and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all of their scintillating beauty” (20). This transcends skin tones, cultures, and social expressions; it doesn’t negate them, just transcends so that we may appreciate one another.
The legal structure had to be corrected. The spiritual structure, as evidenced over the course of the last several years, especially, remains fractured. The legal structure means little if the spiritual is neglected because, as evidenced in Dr. King’s time, laws can be perverted to perpetuate hatred, racism, bigotry, and many forms of oppression. This perversion continues today.
The only answer to this is to discover self, create purpose, and live it in love and light of our own heart. Then, no matter if it’s sitting at counters, marching through shopping malls, or sincerely living any heart-truth, we protest inhumanity and hatred.
I Have the Same Dream. It’s not been fully realized, yet, Dr. King. (Photo by Jerónimo Bernot on Unsplash)“Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood / Martin Luther King, Jr.” (King 20). And I will add for the cause of Sisterhood, and really, humanity in general. Yes, peace and fellowship, my friend. Thank you for inviting me to your table to share, Martin.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!