Chaos or Community: Will America be chaos or community?

Posted on by Rev. Dorothy White

The final book penned by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is entitled, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?  We find ourselves more than fifty years later grappling with the same issues.  Will America be chaos or community?
As I experience the senior years of life, I find myself thankful for the oasis that God has provided.  Every July I would gather with many from all over the country for the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund.  Under the wise leadership of Marian Wright Edelman, one of the matriarchs of the modern Civil Rights Movement, we gather to see children assembled in Freedom School sessions while the adults learn about social activism in practical ways.  One of the most touching memories occurred when our Morning Devotion session concluded with time set aside for us to call and leave messages of support with our senator and congressional representative for child-friendly, community building legislation.
As an Episcopal priest I see among many congregants the willingness to address and support racial harmony for the first time in our nation's history.  I must admit that I was much more than bewildered when I sensed God's calling to Richmond.  I was even more stunned when I sensed the same leading to priesthood in the Episcopal Church.
Events over the last six years have continued to confirm that I am just where I need to be living and serving.  My work at St. Mark's and St. John's churches has provided opportunities to share about race and steps toward understanding.  The dissonance that is the national opus needs a loving and grace-giving conductor to lead the way.  Those of us who comprise the orchestra need our instruments tuned to the clarion call to respect the dignity of every human being.
In keeping with the hopes of assisting in promoting peace, I share the following:


Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debbie Irving
The Cross And The Lynching Tree, by James Cone
Lynched, by Angela Sims
Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of An American Pilgrimage, by Pauli Murray
The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery, produced by Trinity Church, Chicago, sermon by The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
Backs Against the Wall:  The Story of Howard Thurman, produced by Journey Films, may access through PBS
King in the Wilderness, HBO Documentary on King's final years, produced by Taylor Branch
There are countless additional resources to glean from as we move forward to finally be the America in which the worth of every human being is respected.  Our history has been rooted in the antithesis of the Gospel message of love.  We are the hearts, lives, and voices that can and must change that narrative.
Book clubs as well as discussion group moments of dialogue over shared information can begin to change the compass of our lives, individually and collectively.  Even in our time of social distancing we can find ways to reach out, learn, as well as grow together.
Do not underestimate the reality that you can make a difference.  MLK wrote, Racism is a doctrine of the congenital inferiority and worthlessness of a people.  The lunacy of racism and its toxic, dream destroying fruit must be uprooted.  Awareness, education, and maintaining the willingness to learn are key.  Let us maintain hope even in the midst of challenge.
Dorothy A. White+