Beloved Community is when we say “we,” and we mean everyone.
Beloved Community is not homogenous. It can’t be. When commonality is presumed, when we make assumptions about who’s present and whether people are “like us,” or not, we’re not practicing Beloved Community because Beloved Community doesn’t make those assumptions. It doesn’t presume commonality…
Another thing that Beloved Community is not is Beloved Community is not like-minded. Because we’re not called to be like-minded in spiritual community. We’re called to be like- hearted.
And, finally, Beloved Community is not devoid of conflict. And this one is also really hard. Beloved Community is not easy. There’s nothing easy about practicing Beloved Community. When we avoid conflict in order to “get along,” we’re not practicing Beloved Community, because Beloved Community exists when we trust each other, we have the relationships, the strong enough relationships to actually disagree with each other, to be in conflict, even to risk hurting each other, and we can stay in relationship through those disagreements, and conflict, and potential hurt. That’s practicing Beloved Community.
~Alex Kapitan and Rev. Mykal Slack
Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.
~bell hooks, Killing Rage: Ending Racism
My work with the poor and incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
Community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own. The question, therefore, is not ‘How can we make community?’ but, ‘How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?’
To be fully seen by somebody, and then loved anyhow—that is a human offering that can border on miraculous.
How can we achieve a certain kind of compassion that stands in awe of what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgement at how they carry it. For the measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them… That’s what we want to achieve, this sense of mutuality, where we obliterate once and for all the illusion that we are separate. No us and them. Just us…
~Fr. Gregory Boyle
(Curated and adapted for KUF from the 2021 Soul Matters materials for the theme ‘Beloved Community’ by Rev. Beckett Coppola.)