Tag Archives: beloved community

Living in a Beloved Community

Recently, a good friend of mine, who is Hispanic, gave a prayer following our conversation about homeless neighbors of all races in Georgetown.

He used the words, “God, give us eyes to see what you see and give us the heart to feel the pain and suffering of others …”

Earlier in the day, another friend who is African American, shared with me that several days earlier she noticed a white woman, who works at a local retail store, asleep in an automobile.  A few days later, my friend saw this same lady asleep in the vehicle.

This friend told me she felt compelled to approach the woman and inquire about her situation. This store employee was homeless. My friend was moved with compassion and went out of her way to find a room for the woman and is now working to find her a more permanent residence.

Who am I? I am a “beloved’ child of God. I am created in the image and likeness of God. When I am my ‘true self,’ I am unconditionally concerned for the wellbeing of others, their health, their safety and their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Why? Because they, too, are ‘beloved’ children of God. In fact, they are my brothers and sisters. Even, if they do not know their father or don’t acknowledge their father, they are still his ‘beloved sons and daughters.’ And so, I believe this about every human being. I believe that God loves each and every one of God’s children equally.

What’s in my heart?  The heart is at the very ‘core’ of our being. From the heart, flows our actions and our words. The heart of God is ‘love.’  Love (agape) is the essence, indeed the very being of God. Love– the self-giving, unconditional concern for the well-being of others– is the core of who God is. God, fill my heart with your love.

How, then, do I live in this ‘beloved community?’ Love for others is my highest aspiration, for in loving others, I show my love for God. I aspire to see each brother and sister with the eyes of God and feel for each one with the heart of God.  We are all God’s children and all means ALL.

Ron Swain,
Convener of Courageous Conversations

Toward the Beloved Community: Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life for the cause of justice and freedom for all people in America and around the world.  He often described his aim as the creation of the “beloved community.”

Dr. King had traveled to Memphis, Tenn., to seek just wages for the garbage collectors of that city.  Although he had earned a PhD., the highest educational attainment one can achieve, and although his profession afforded him recognition in the middle socioeconomic class of America, Dr. King did not consider himself too high above his neighbors to walk alongside “the least of these.”

What lessons can we learn from this man of God?

First, we learn that his focus was justice for ALL people.

Second, we learn that his purpose was to do God’s will—to create the “beloved community.”

Third, we learn that he had a plan based on the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” and the “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change.”

Fourth, we learn from him the virtue of patience—he marched, he strategized. He was not satisfied with short-term achievements; he was looking for long-term creation of the  “beloved community.”

Fifth, we learn from his persistence. He kept coming back, even until his death. The evening before his assassination, he delivered the speech in which he stated, “I have been to the mountaintop and I have seen the promised land (the beloved community.)  I may not get there with you, but one day we as a people will get there!”

I pray that we who are committed to the Courageous Conversations movement will learn and apply these lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To God be the glory!

Ron Swain
Convener

Courageous Conversations Movement: Why Are We Here?

 In December 2014, an interracial, multicultural and multiethnic group of individuals from various faith communities met to explore alternative behaviors to verbal and physical violence in Georgetown.

The group agreed that race is a key issue contributing to dehumanization and violence in our cities, nation and the world.  In order to create Georgetown as an alternative model to dehumanization and violence, the group agreed on this vision: “Georgetown: A beloved community of compassion characterized by cross-cultural communication, collaboration, celebration and courage.”

This vision of a “beloved community” comes from the thoughts, words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote, “In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because the core values of human decency and human respect will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced with an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”

Why are we here? We are here for many reasons.

We are here to:

  • oppose the violence of words and actions that create and maintain unequal, unfair and unjust policies and practices in our community.
  • counteract the forces that create and maintain disparities in education, housing affordability, economic development, healthcare access and public safety.
  • raise awareness of the inequitable practices that create and maintain poverty, hunger, homelessness and any other unfair treatment throughout our community.
  • educate ourselves and others about issues before us.
  • seek creative solutions to our community problems.
  • get to know each other and to build trusting relationships with one another, even if we disagree on many issues.
  • be reconciled with one another.

And we are here because we:

  • recognize that economic, educational, legal, political and social disparities exist across our community.
  • want to put “love (agape) into action”;  we want ALL members of our community to be respected and valued as human beings, created in the image and spirit of love.
  • believe that Georgetown is a unique place that can be a beacon for other communities around the United States and the world.
  • believe “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Many of us are people of a deep faith in God and we are open to and accept ALL who are willing to join us on this journey to create Georgetown as a beloved community of compassion.

Grace and Peace,

Ron Swain
Convener

Chaos or Community: Déjà vu?

DDear Friends:

In April 1968, I was a junior studying history at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.  On the spring evening of April 4th, we learned that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been fatally shot in Memphis.  Dr. King was in Memphis to lead a march with the sanitation workers (garbage collectors) in an effort to gain them better wages and benefits.

That April night, Pittsburgh started burning — from the Hill District, the predominately African-American neighborhood; to downtown, the central business district and site of major banks, retails stores and general commerce. Pittsburgh was on fire!

Homes and businesses on the Hill were destroyed and the fires spread to downtown. Duquesne was just a few blocks from the fires, the violence and the chaos. Long pent-up anger and hostility exploded. Fear permeated the core of the city. The days and weeks following caused many of us to ask the question: Will this chaos be a permanent presence? No!

As an officer of our University’s Student Congress, I began conversations with fellow students and my faculty members, in particular Dr. Margaret Milliones, an African-American sociologist.

We reached out to our neighbors on the Hill, downtown business leaders and residents of East Liberty. We organized a race-relations weekend at Duquesne. Our efforts brought together members of both “town” and “gown” for a black/white dialogue. Dr. King’s last book before his assassination, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community, was the centerpiece of our conversations. In his book, Dr. King offers political and economic steps toward creating a “Beloved Community” where all enjoy the nation’s abundance.

Almost 50 years later, I still believe that “Beloved Community” is possible.

This new year is a critical one for us as a nation. I wake up every day more determined than ever to give my energies and my best efforts to building the “Beloved Community.”

Will you join me? The God-inspired Courageous Conversations movement in Georgetown is our attempt to create that community where ALL means ALL!

— Dr. Ron Swain
Convener, Courageous Conversations GTX