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Shasta County’s Beloved Community Movement

Creative Commons photo of John Lewis and Krista Tippett by Stefni Bell via Flickr

Creative Commons photo of John Lewis and Krista Tippett by Stefni Bell via Flickr

This coming Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 10 AM a group of caring people from several faith traditions (progressive Christian, Bahai, Quakers, Spiritual Living and Unity) plus representatives from a few well-established community organizations such as SCCAR and NAACP, will meet for an hour at First United Methodist Church to offer their views on small specific actions that can be taken between now and the end of the year to advance the notion of Beloved Community, locally in Shasta County communities.

In my previous blog post on the Beloved Community I quoted that “the Beloved Community can be achieved through an unshakable commitment to nonviolence.” About two weeks ago I highlighted King Center’s Six Steps of Non-violent Social Change.

The broad appeal of modern day heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas K. Gandhi, Nelson Mandella and the Dalhli Lama is their ability to communicate, through their  life and actions as well as words, their passionate commitment to certain positive universal principals, that appeal to the noblest aspirations of the human spirit – these transcend their own individual religious tradition: hope; non-violence; compassion; inclusivity; interrelatedness; respect; love; and responsibility.

I attended a Beloved Community movement’s brainstorming session last Saturday and, in addition to respect for the important work they are doing, three thoughts emerged to me:

  1. Food Justice
  2. Non-violent Social Change
  3. Inclusivity

Food Justice

The March on Washington was as much a protest about poverty and jobs for all people as much as about racial injustices. In addition to racism, the King Center lists poverty and militarism as the “Triple Evils”– forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They note that “they are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community. When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils.”

While bigotry and racism continue to be periodic, shameful problems in Shasta County, as I previously suggested in an earlier blog post comment, ethnic, religious and GLBT minorities are not as large groups locally, either in terms of numbers or percentages, as elsewhere in our state and nation.

It could be argued, of course, that in other parts of California, with larger proportions of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native-Americans, religious minorities and GLBT, such as the Bay Area or Southern California, people have learned to get along together better and that racism, discrimination and bullying is an even greater problem here because minority numbers are smaller, but I don’t think so. This is not to minimize the profound negative effects that bigotry and racial/ethnic/religious discrimination have on anyone subjected to those abuses.

I respectfully and humbly suggest that food justice issues and the cluster of related poverty topics (i.e. lack of well-paying jobs; advanced-education levels; food insecurity; obesity; mental illness; homelessness, etc.) might be the tangible focus for taking small actions and creating a more Beloved Community in the Redding, CA area.

As the film A Place at the Table points out food insecurity is a problem of poverty, not that we do not produce enough food to feed the world’s population. Child obesity is related to low incomes, food cost per calorie and our Federal government policies that subsidize agricultural commodities, which end up in junk food, at the expense of small supporting small, local farmers. Ironically, this movie is being shown at FUMC at 6 PM the same night.

Non-violence

The legacy and non-violent resolve of Martin Luther King Jr. was recently brought home to me personally and powerfully by listening to a podcast interview of Georgia Congressman John Lewis by Krista Tippett of American Public Media’s On Being.

On August 30, 2013, Bill Moyers also interviewed John Lewis, who reflected on his participation in the March on Washington 50 years ago. Lewis discussed “the continuing challenges to racial and economic equality, and his unwavering dedication to nonviolence and brotherly love as a means toward a more just end — even when facing inevitable violence and brutality.”

I was particularly taken by Lewis’s resolve because, as he said “they were all trained in non-violence and willing to endure suffering to bring about social change.” I commend the On Being and Moyers interviews to you as you can make time to listen/watch.

The King Center asserts that “to work against the Triple Evils, you must first develop a non-violent frame of mind as described in the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” and use the Kingian model for social action outlined in the “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change:” Information Gathering; Education; Personal Commitment; Direct Action; and Reconciliation.

Inclusivity

While the initial impetus of Redding’s recent, grass-roots Beloved Community movement came from a dinner discussion at a local church on August 24, 2013, held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, I believe that in order to have sustained local influence the Beloved Community movement needs to be consciously inclusive of a broader spectrum of community participation: business interests, public agencies, organizations already in place (i.e. Continuum of Care, People of Progress, Rescue Mission; Living Hope; One Safe Place, etc.) conservative Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Native-Americans, agnostics, atheists and other moral citizens outside of a specific faith traditions.

Meetings need to be held on neutral ground, such as the public library, so that it is inviting to ALL and the movement becomes truly representative of ALL members of the community.

There are many people of good will in Redding, CA who share the aspirations of the Beloved Community. In becoming more connected we become a stronger community. It’s a hard, but necessary process to proceed from principles to actions. Hard, but necessary.

Add your voice. How are you called to participate?

One Response to Shasta County’s Beloved Community Movement

  1. Lynne

    September 20, 2013 at

    Thank you!

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