Day 9 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” Speech.
As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1954. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.
But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men—for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?
By Kate Foran (photo above), formed by the nonviolent resistance and radical hospitality of the Catholic Worker movement, and inspired and challenged by other communities of love & struggle (including the Beloved Community Center in North Carolina) whose faith drives their work for social transformation.
Here is King the prophet (honored abroad and scorned by many at home), explaining, in concentric circles of accountability, why he feels compelled to speak out against the Vietnam war. After appealing to his commitment to America’s vision, he broadens his argument beyond national boundaries. Then he appeals to his Gospel obligation. Two questions for Lenten devotion arise for me here: In the current climate of “America First” and “build-a-wall” rhetoric, what does it mean to “go beyond national allegiances?” And further, in King’s surprising turn of phrase, how do I not only “not threaten [my enemy] with death,” (then: the communist; now: the terrorist, the immigrant, the refugee, whoever is other…) but how do I “share my life with them?” Continue reading “Beyond National Allegiances”