I am a man

In the Sanitation Workers' Strike of 1968 in Memphis, the African American demonstrators carried placards that read simply, “I am a man.” It seems obvious— but it was news to the city: that they were human beings worthy of respect. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream that we celebrate today is the heart of both social justice and contemplative presence: the commitment to see others as people rather than as symbols or roles or projections of our own feelings.

Today you will encounter people who may be far away, or very different from you, your political opposite, or someone with a history of annoying or offending you. You will be temped to judge, categorize, or dehumanize them. Resist the temptation. Stay present. See them. Allow them to be real, whole people. Beneath their strangeness, politics, or annoying behavior, there is a heart with hurts and hopes, equal to yours and close to you. You are one in the Beloved. Love them. Even if they are your enemy, love them. More than all the political and economic reform in the world, seeing people as people and loving your enemies is the one thing that will actually change everything.

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Copyright (c) 2010 Steve Garnaas-Holmes unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com