As The King Center prepares for our 2022 King Holiday Observance, in commemoration of my father, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, 93rd birthday, I implore people throughout the world to embrace our theme and the corresponding work encouraged by the theme: ‘It Starts with Me: Shifting Priorities to Create the Beloved Community.’ This theme, which is aligned with The King Center’s vision of “The Beloved Community where injustice ceases and love prevails,” is not a catchy phrase for advertising purposes or merely a theme for a series of events. It captures what I deeply believe we must comprehend and do to avoid what my father described as our “violent co-annihilation” and to create what both he and my mother, King Center Founder, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, sought for the future of humanity, which is the Beloved Community.
Now more than ever, it is critical that we increase our understanding of the Beloved Community and heighten our individual and collective efforts to make it a reality. Many consider the Beloved Community to be unachievable because of the misnomer that it is a Utopia. However, the Beloved Community is not a perfect place. It is a place where imperfections don’t spiral downward to become injustices, gross inhumanity, genocide and the perpetual devastation of what my father called the Triple Evils of Racism, Extreme Materialism, and Militarism.
As my mother stated, “In the Beloved Community, caring and compassion drive political policies that support the worldwide elimination of poverty and hunger and all forms of bigotry and violence.” In her memoir, Coretta: My Life, My Love, My Legacy, she also wrote, “The Beloved Community is fueled by unconditional love, feels like family, and transcends race, religion, and class.” In addition to learning more about these quotes, we must learn more about what the Beloved Community encompasses, as well as grasp what is required for us to get there together.
To that end, The King Center’s 2022 King Holiday Observance programs and experiences, taking place January 10-17, 2022, will guide people across the globe through the exploration of what the Beloved Community is via virtual events such as the Beloved Community Global Summit and a 2-session series on ‘Keys to Creating a Culture Shift that Sticks.’ These experiences and others, including the Beloved Community Awards and the Nonviolence365 Teach-In, will also convey the reasons why we must shift priorities to create the Beloved Community. In addition, during the 2022 King Holiday Observance, we will examine the myriad of ways that we must shift.
I reiterate that we must shift. Human beings simply cannot holistically afford to continue a collective trajectory of self-centeredness and of being more “thing-centered” than “people-centered.” We must shift our thinking and our perspectives in recognition of our interconnectedness and interdependence. We must shift power and resources to eradicate racism, inequity, and poverty. We must shift our energy and time to focus on the authentic so that we do not explore the artificial, including A.I., without heightened attention to our moral and ethical responsibility as well as our accountability to humanity.
These are collective shifts, but they start with each of us. “It starts with me.” And it starts with you. I am hopeful that the 2022 King Holiday Observance will usher in a period of contemplation joined with coalition building, critical thinking toward the establishment of true peace, and coordinated social change to create the Beloved Community. We must shift priorities and 2022 KHO will provide us with insight and action steps for approaching and engaging each other in these revolutionary times.
As my father said in his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, “Nothing could be more tragic than for men to live in these revolutionary times and fail to achieve the new attitudes and the new mental outlooks that the new situation demands.” We must shift. Join The King Center for our 2022 King Holiday Observance, where we will be galvanized around making the individual and collective priority shifts necessary to create the Beloved Community.