We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. – Martin Luther King, Jr
What does that mean?
This quote is about the totality of humanity. While it was spoken specifically about the racial divide then present in the United States of America, I believe it also applies to all of us.
For anyone who has had a brother or known someone who had a brother, you know that life isn’t always peaceful or calm. Yet the familial bond means something to most, and as brothers (or sisters), we tend to treat each-other reasonably well. That is what the quote asks of us, to learn to live together as brothers, as one big family.
The quote ends with the alternate way the human drama will play out. If we cannot live together as a family, we will perish together as fools. When we have the option of surviving or perishing, and choose to perish, that’s not very bright. When the stakes are all of humanity, choosing to perish is something well beyond foolish, wouldn’t you say?
Why is learning to live together important?
No one who has a family will pretend that everything was always perfect. We know how our lives were growing up, and it wasn’t like that. We are imperfect beings, and we act that way, even towards our family. Yet we hold our family closer, most of the time.
By staying closer to our family, we are more likely to communicate fully, and to forgive fully. Yes, there are family disagreements, and sometimes bad blood and resentment can last for years. Yet still the familial bond is there, holding steady, deep beneath the roiling emotions.
Contrast that to how many treat those who are not family, not friend, not even of the same country, creed, race, or ethnicity. These are ways to divide people, not unite them. A family can be divided, but only if they choose to focus on what is different, rather than what is the same.
Where can I apply this in my life?
To me, the first step in making everyone your family is to first make everyone your friend. Yeah, I know, easier said than done. While the ultimate goal may be beyond our grasp at the moment, we have to start somewhere, so let’s start at home.
How is your family? Are you on speaking terms with them? Is everyone within the family still living together as brothers, or are there serious divisions? I’m not talking the kind of stuff that blows over in a few hours or days, but the kind of thing that sticks around for years.
What can you do to help mend fences, to help people be together and work together? Can you mediate between, or help with an action one feels is necessary and the other feels is not? What can you say to soothe, calm, or otherwise get them prepared to discuss the issue at hand?
Once you have your family squared away, what do we want to try next? How about a broader question: What do you have to believe in order to live together with someone as if they were family? Remember, this version of ‘live’ means to coexist with someone, not to occupy the same house.
How do you establish a familial feel, a camaraderie or closeness that siblings often have? There is a certain amount of honesty and openness that seems to be a key element to most familial relationships. How can you extend that to your closest friends?
Actually, you probably already have, as everyone I know has pointed out to me. They all have at least a friend (most have more) with whom they are at least as close with as the rest of their family. But do you remember how you did it?
For me, it just kind of happened. Someone either did or didn’t ‘click,’ for lack of a better word. But common interests seem to be part of it, as have common likes and desires. A similar sense of humor also seems to be part of it, at least for me.
Not everyone will have these traits. But you will have to find something in common. At least we’re all human, we all eat and breathe, and that’s a start, right? I didn’t say this would be easy, did I? But you won’t get better at it if you don’t do it a few times, right?
Not everyone will want to be your friend, but that shouldn’t prevent you from treating them kindly and well. You can treat them as a brother, or you be a fool. I know which one I prefer.
What about you? Will you take the time and put in the effort? Will you treat others as your brothers, or will we perish as fools?
From: Twitter, @DrOz
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth101309.html
Photo by Caitlin Regan
- Image of MLK in a hoodie shows nothing but ‘anger and hurt,’ civil rights leader’s niece says (washingtontimes.com)
- Brothers and Countrymen (jrbenjamin.com)