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In the Foreword to Martin Luther King’s book Strength to Love, his widow Coretta Scott King noted that his social justice work was animated by an unyielding belief in the “divine, loving presence that binds all life.”
What makes King such an ever-relevant figure (and what makes honoring him such a worthy exercise each year) is that this core part of his being was so much bigger than desegregation. Clearly that was the immediate goal, but King was equally interested in “attacking the basis of injustice – man’s hostility to man.”
The way to do this most effectively in King’s eyes was through love, i.e. seeing the “divine, loving presence” in all.
“When I speak of love,” King said, “I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle.”
This sentence resonates with me deeply – not only because of our current political climate in America – but because I’ve been working for more than a year to translate “love” in this same sense to the career space.
And what I’ve discovered is that we tend to take the general concept of “love” (because we don’t really understand what it means) and offer it only to individuals and situations we deem worthy of our affection.
In writing Miracles at Work, for example, I’ve had people tell me that their office is “too dysfunctional” or “too toxic” to apply love in the way that King describes, and yet, no one I spoke to has ever been arrested on their way to work, sprayed with fire hoses, or attacked by dogs. King and his followers were and yet they still somehow found a way to stand as beacons of spiritual love in otherwise very dark times.
King’s example is why I believe in the power of spiritual intelligence applied to all aspects of our lives without exception.
I’ll be writing more about this as I gear up for the release of Miracles at Work next month; however, on this day, as we pause to celebrate the life of a great man, it’s worth considering how much Martin Luther King would have been able to accomplish had he allowed the injustices he experienced to consume him.
The fact that he didn’t is proof that the love King used to shape his worldview is a force – and if we are going to emerge from these darkening times of our own, we should start learning how to wield it ourselves.