Building a Community
“Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that. Yes, love—which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies—is the solution to the race problem.” Martin Luther King 1957
While Dr. King’s remarks were made some 60 years ago, in the present day of divisiveness and visceral attacks made by opposing sides of any issue, at no time has it been even more important to reflect on his words. At the core of every good teacher is the understanding that their time is almost entirely spent on developing relationships. Whether before, during, or after delivering the curriculum it is at the root of all we do. Students, parents, colleagues and supervisors all benefit from this understanding. To relate well to people, we need to first understand and value them. Once we make the effort to understand where others are coming from, then we place ourselves in a better position to respond or react to any situation. Any time I reflect on what I hear and read in today’s media, I am reminded of Atticus teaching this important lesson to his daughter, Scout, when he says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Indeed, in Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout ultimately sees the world through the “malevolent phantom” Boo Radley’s eyes. Whatever the “malevolent phantom” in our lives, here’s hoping we remember that our goal is always to build a community.
Yours in unity,