Sheltering Walls: No outsiders

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states.  I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.  Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.  Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea.  Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Martin Luther King, Jr,  “Letter from the Birmingham City Jail”

As we move through our homes or offices or other buildings today, let’s take a moment to gaze around any particular room and notice that space that has been created there.  At the very minimum, walls, ceilings, and floors are required to shape and form that basic space within which we move, sit, visit, work, pray, read and otherwise engage in life.  There are likely also windows and doors, furniture, lamps and other things that make life in that space more comfortable.  They are all extras, however, without that essential, first space created by the walls.

On this national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, I am always reminded of his deeply powerful Letter from the Birmingham City Jail.  I’ve studied the Letter many times.  I’ve visited the Civil Rights Museum often in Birmingham where the actual jail cell has been preserved.  I am always drawn to these words which I consider core not only to that letter but to what the whole civil rights movement, then and now, means to me.  In fact, these words represent for me the core of human rights, of human spirituality, and as closely as any words can, an expression of what underlies our being here on this Earth in the first place.

King captures that there has been a space created–some foundational walls put into place–that create this space we live in.  Those foundational walls are interrelatedness, the network of mutuality, the single garment of destiny, the deep understanding that ultimately what affects one directly affects all indirectly.  We don’t have to like these ideas.  In fact, many do find them deeply disturbing, disturbing enough to find ways to ignore, deny and denigrate them.  In other words, unhappy with the space created by the walls, sometimes we try and pretend that the walls don’t exist, that we are not in this room, that in fact, we are willing to destroy the room to make clear that it doesn’t exist.

To the destruction of us all.

The shape of the space that we ALL live in has been created long before we were conscious of it, and it is made of the interconnection of all existence of which we are a part.

Bob Patrick

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