In Martin Luther King Jr’s final book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?,” published in the year before his assassination, he outlines his expansive vision of inclusive, diverse and economically equitable communities. For King, love is the key part of creating communities that work for everyone. Dr King focused on the role of love as key to building healthy communities and the ways in which love can and should be at the center of our social interactions.
Dr King said, “In speaking of love we are not referring to some sentimental emotion […] we speak of a love which is expressed in the Greek word Agape. Agape means nothing sentimental or basically affectionate; it means understanding, redeeming goodwill for all [sic] men, an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return.”
Dr King further defined agape as “ at the center of the movement we are to carry on”. Dr King noted that all persons exist in an interrelated community and all are dependent on each other. By connecting love to community, King argued there were opportunities to build a more just and economically sustainable society which respected difference. As he said, “Agape is a willingness to go to any length to restore community… Therefore if I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate I do nothing but intensify the cleavages of a broken community.”In the face of violence and deepening political divisions, King’s words and philosophy are perhaps more critical for us today than at any point in the recent past. There is a great need to bring back Dr King’s vision of agape-fueled community building. We strive for ASOH to be the embodiment of Dr King’s highest vision of Love and Family for humanity.