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Lions Roar : January 2005
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2005 49 demonstration. When SCLC’s activists operated on the basis of these vows, they could not fail in winning the hearts and minds of their opponents, for clearly they approached their “enemy” as themselves. Secondly, he urged us to practice agape, the ability to unconditionally love something not for what it currently is (for at a particular moment it might be quite unlovable, like segregationist George Wallace in the early sixties) but instead for what it could become, a teleological love that recognizes everything as process, not product, and sees beneath the surface to a thing’s potential for positive change—the kind of love every mother has for her (at times) wayward child. And finally, he understood integration and interdependence to be the life’s blood of our being, proclaiming, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable net- work of mutuality, tied in a single gar- ment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In effect, King understood that our lives are already tissued, ontologically, with the presence of others in a we-relation, the recognition of which moves us to feel a profound indebtedness to our fellow men and women, predecessors and ancestors. “When we get up in the morning,” he said, “we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge provided for us by a Pacific Islander. The towel is provided by a Turk. We reach for soap created by a Frenchman. In the kitchen, you drink cof- fee provided by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African, and you butter toast from an English-speaking farmer. And before you’ve finished break- fast, you’ve depended on more than half the world....This is the way our universe is structured. This is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of the universe.” And if our destinies are so intertwined, it follows that “Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” Little wonder, then, that when King entered Stage Two of his evolution, which I date from the day he received the Nobel Peace Prize, he envisioned himself not merely as a Southern civil rights leader, but instead as a man obligated to promote his belief in the “beloved community” and peace on the world stage—a stance that would make him the first international celebrity to oppose the Vietnam War (and a comrade of a young monk named Thich Nhat Hanh, whom King nominated for that prize). In 1964, at age thirty-four, he was the youngest person to receive the Peace Prize. The money came to $54,000, and King kept none of it for himself. He divided the prize money evenly among five organizations devoted to civil rights and peace. Forty years ago, in his acceptance speech for the award, The March on Washington, August 28, 1963: Following his “I Have a Dream” speech, King leads marchers from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.