For the last four years I have carried a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. around with me wherever I have moved: Cartagena, Minneapolis, Denver, and now it is on my wall above my kitchen sink in Libertad.
I love this idea of community and remembering that I am not on this earth living simply for myself, but rather my words, my actions, and my goals affect and depend on others’.
Living in Colombia, in a community directly affected by violence and illegal armed groups has given a new meaning to this idea. John Paul Lederach, a scholar of international peacebuilding and conflict resolution, really made me think about what Martin Luther king Jr. said. Lederach wrote:
“Breaking violence requires that people embrace a more fundamental truth: Who we have been, are and will be emerges and shapes itself in a context of relational interdependency… the quality of our life is dependent on the quality of life of others. It recognizes that the well-being of our grandchildren is directly tied to the well-being of our enemy’s grandchildren.” John Paul Lederach (The Moral Imagination, 2005, p. 34-35)
Directly connected to the wellbeing of our enemy? That means directly connected to the people who mistreated my friends in this community; directly connected to the people who sexually abused the women who are my neighbors; directly connected to the people who killed family members of people I love. If it is difficult for me to think about how my wellbeing and my future is connected to people who have hurt the people of Libertad, how much more difficult must it be for the people here who lived through the violence and know the faces of the people who hurt them, to think about how they are interdependent?
But this idea of interconnectivity and interdependence is something that has been very present in my life these days:
While taking some time out in my morning to read a Bible passage, I read in Matthew 5:44-45:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
In a meeting with the community council in Libertad discussing their role as community leaders, one of the members shared the idea of interdependence through the image of knitting:
“We are knitting together the community as one.”-a member of the community counsel of Libertad
I still find it incredibly difficult to think about the idea of caring for the wellbeing of people who have done such awful things to people I love, but the importance of this interconnectivity has been clearly shown to me in friendships, in religion, and in the community work I am realizing.
Still, I ask myself, How the heck am I supposed to love them? Am I ready to accept the challenge of thinking about my life in connection to people who are working against the work that I do, and praying for those who have done incredible harm to people I love?
I am going to try. Are you?