I Choose to be Maladjusted
Over the years I have loved Martin Luther King, Jr for his commitment to living heaven on earth and I’ve disliked him for his alleged philandering.
When I learned it was a mother who said to him in the grocery story “I hope someday our children can play together and not be judged by the color of their skin but instead by their character,” I was angry he didn’t credit her for these heart felt words. Since becoming a minister I realize talks are inspired in large part by our experience with others, so I softened a bit. After I had the experience of being cheated on, I couldn’t imagine a man who touted “morality” harming his wife this way. I still don’t understand this one, and I’ve learned it isn’t my business to.
There are periods over the past four decades I have also been deeply inspired by his words and work. Core changing inspiration which has led me to see the Gospels in a social light. I believe I have read most books written about and by him, all of his sermons, and seen numerous documentaries of his life. I vacillated between immense soulful learning combined with disappointment at my perceptions of how he ought to have lived. I have unleashed all kinds of anger upon what I construed as sexist behavior. My experience of him has been one of push and pull. I could see him as all good or bad, and took much development within myself to see him as an inspired human who was a gift to humanity.
My struggle, of course, was not about him, but was inside of me. I was learning to accept my own imperfections and humanity while expanding my willingness to serve my vision given to me by God. After all, if we all waited until we were perfect to unleash our callings, there would be no action taken, at all. We would live in a state of stagnation. In a personal context, this wrangling was an active part of my freedom. Freedom from judgement, personal lessons in forgiveness, and stepping into Divine Love.
Today I sit at a place with great reverence for his oratory ability, his courage, his stance on non-violence, his ability to stand in the midst an opposition while remaining grounded in spiritual principle, his willingness to serve God, and much, much more. After all, he said “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” In other words, perfection isn’t necessary to love. He knew this, and I continue to learn this.
My dad used to say how much he admired John F. Kennedy for his ability to hijack others disparaging words and turn them into compliments. Watching this clip of Martin Luther King, Jr. I had that same sentiment. His ability to turn the word “maladjusted” into an asset is powerful. The sentiment beneath it, even more so.
Listen to the video clip, it is short and inspiring. The following paragraph is the next paragraph in his speech (not aired in clip): “In other words, I’m about convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world. The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment–men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos. Who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation would not survive half-slave and half-free. As maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery would scratch across the pages of history words lifted to cosmic proportions, “We know these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator certain unalienable rights” that among these are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth who could say to the men and women of his day, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Pray for them that despitefully use you.” Through such maladjustment, I believe that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice. My faith is that somehow this problem will be solved.” MLK, Jr., 1963
What a fun group to be a part of. Count me in!!