A conversation on Dr. King’s Beloved Community awakens ‘treasures from the deep’

November 10, 2023
Cat Cutillo
Social Media and Community Content Specialist

Saint Michael’s community members gathered in Purposeful Learning on Nov. 8 to hear Student Success Advisor Vernita Weller speak about the connection between spirituality and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Beloved Community”— a global vision rooted in agape love, in which all people can share in the wealth on earth. The conversation was part of the “Spiritual Exploration Series.”

“My definition of spirituality is to function in love,” Weller said at the beginning of the event.

Weller showed a two-minute video to attendees on agape love, a form of love at the core of Dr. King’s nonviolent resistance.

“When we talk about love in the Beloved Community, we are talking about the type of love that is the basis of not harming people,” Weller said. “That is a very powerful love. That is the kind of love the transforms an environment, a culture, a nation, a world.”

Weller explained that Dr. King was raised in a biblically centered Baptist Christian home and took his own journey to investigate what it meant to “love your enemy.” She shared an article in Vox about how Dr. King’s faith drove his activism. Weller said the message was important for Saint Michael’s heavily social impact-centered environment.

Vernita Weller

Weller encouraged the group to examine themselves through what they’d learned about Dr. King’s upbringing and vision.

“If you don’t know why you do what you do, you can easily be tossed around,” Weller said.

She added, “What motivates us to be socially impacting?”

The Vox article included a quote from Toni Morrison, which Weller read: “Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in love.”

Reading on, she explained that Dr. King was greatly influenced during his doctoral studies at Boston University by a theology known as Personalism, the philosophy that God is personal and that people possess “infinite viable dignity.”

“Even though you may not adhere to this kind of religious thinking, the idea is that Personalism is powerful,” Weller said. “That kind of Personalism effects community.”

To further illustrate this point, Weller read a quote from Dr. King: “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Then, Weller added her own interpretation of Dr. King’s quote: “Your one action can be felt by others. The type of decision we make, affects everyone, ultimately.”

When decisions are made that promotes a racist system, everyone suffers, Weller said. Dr. King “realized that there’s only one thing that cures hate. That is love,” she added.

“When you respond in that type of agape love—a love that is weighty, a love that produces life, a love that overtakes darkness, overtakes hate— you will turn the world upside down,” Weller said. “It will last forever, and it will change lives.”

Near the end of the event, the group asked questions and made connections between Dr. King and Gandhi. They gave a powerful applause at the end, thanking Weller.

“I’m hoping to awaken some thinking,” she said. “To dive deeper into our own spirits and to bring up something from the deep— treasures from the deep of our own souls.”

“I’m hoping to awaken some thinking, to dive deeper into our own spirits and to bring up something from the deep— treasures from the deep of our own souls.”

Vernita Weller

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