Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
It is in our hands — yours and mine, each person here today — to make a decision to work, to work together, and to work with others around the whole world, to build friendship, and love, and understanding among all people. (adapted)
Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighboring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. And there are ways in which we can consciously work to develop feelings of love and kindness. For some of us, the most effective way to do so is through religious practice. For others it may be non-religious practices. What is important is that we each make a sincere effort to take our responsibility for each other and for the natural environment we live in seriously.
An appropriate symbol for the process of celebrating life, enduring limits, and resisting injustice … is the beloved community…. The beloved community names the matrix within which life is celebrated, love is worshipped, and partial victories over injustice lay the groundwork for further acts of criticism and courageous defiance. From within the matrix of beloved community, there is a solid basis for social critique and self criticism: the life-giving love constitutive of solidarity with the oppressed and love of oneself.
It is a strange fact that freedom and equality, the two basic ideas of democracy, are to some extent contradictory. Logically considered, freedom and equality are mutually exclusive, just as society and the individual are mutually exclusive.
I am a living member of the great family of all souls; and I cannot improve or suffer myself without diffusing good or evil around me through an ever-enlarging sphere. I belong to this family. I am bound to it by vital bonds.
We clasp the hands of those that go before us, And the hands of those who come after us. We enter the little circle of each other’s arms And the larger circle of lovers, Whose hands are joined in a dance, And the larger circle of all creatures, Passing in and out of life, Who move also in a dance, To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it Except in fragments
We are called to be strong companions and clear mirrors to one another, to seek those who reflect with compassion and a keen eye how we are doing, whether we seem centered or off course … we need the nourishing company of others to create the circle needed for growth, freedom and healing.
Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man. Thousands of years ago the question was asked Am I my brothers keeper? That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death.
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
Hear me, four quarters of the world – a relative I am! Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is! Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you. With your power only can I face the winds.
A world community can exist only with world communication, which means something more than extensive short-wave facilities scattered about the globe. It means common understanding, a common tradition, common ideas, and common ideals.
Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
The spiritual path is not a solo endeavor. In fact the very notion of a self who is trying to free her/himself is a delusion. We are in it together and the company of spiritual friends helps us realize our interconnectedness.