Please try to be clear, dear James, through the storm which rages about your youthful head today, about the reality which lies behind the words “acceptance” and “integration.” There is no reason for you to try to become like white men and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them, and I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love, for these innocent people have no other hope. They are in effect still trapped in a history which they do not understand and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men.
We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.
We saw our annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For some, Monday was just another day, for others it was a moment to pause, and for others it was a moment to reflect on our past as we look to our future. I quoted from two sources above that both speak to our mutuality and dependence on one another. James Baldwin and Dr. King both speak of the idea that we, despite our differences and background, are connected to each other. As Dr. King says “whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”. Interconnection of humanity was woven together by God at the time of creation. This idea scares us because it reminds us that we are not called to only look after ourselves, but also seek out the needs of those around us. Our decisions do not just affect us, but those around us. This very hard truth becomes the hope and the hope is realized when we look at our world and the ways we can build not destroy, love not hate, embrace not exclude each other. When we live into this reality, we begin to see the gaps in our world and the work that lies before us. As Christians we are called into the gap of despair, ignorance, and hate to bring the light of God. Our work begins in accepting who we are, whose we are, and who we are connected to. As I look out on our world, I do not underestimate the work that lies before us, but I am encouraged by individuals like Dr. King and James Baldwin who give us one example of how we engage in work that seems insurmountable. “God grant that we will be participants in this newness and this magnificent development. If we will but do it, we will bring about a new day of justice and brotherhood and peace. And that day the morning stars will sing together and the sons of God will shout for joy. God bless you” (Dr. King).