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A Network of Mutuality: Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an unescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affect us all indirectly.”  - Martin Luther King

This past week, the city of Boston unveiled “The Embrace”, a statue by Hank Willis Thomas to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King. On a cold winter day, thousands of us watched with tears and laughter as “The Embrace” was unveiled. For over a year, I have gathered virtually with other Bostonians to plan for this launch and it is an historic moment to watch it arrive and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King.

I think Dr King would have loved The Lexicon of Change that we are building, as it connects and builds on many of his key themes, including non-violence and Ahisma.

Dr. Martin Luther King is a brilliant example of a positive maverick. A positive maverick is a leader changing our view of what is possible. “An unorthodox or independent-minded person who’s being, doing and thinking is changing systems. A positive maverick: 

  1. Works constructively towards positive change
  2. Thinks independently, challenging personal and institutional constraints, structural limitations, unconscious biases and shadow agendas
  3. Back casts from a desired future, building bridges and foundations on the far side of the river and spanning backwards to meet the present
  4. Catalyzes transformation from the foundations of incremental change
  5. Acts at the pace, scale and scope dictated by science and ethics
  6. Thinks and acts at systems levels, making nano/micro/meso/macro links
  7. Works collaboratively in ne(x)tworks, dispelling the illusion of separation
  8. Maintains persistence despite widespread resistance to a transformative agenda and active hope in the face of planetary and societal collapse.”

(The term “positive maverick” is used by the think tank R3.0. Henk Hadders from the Netherlands shared this definition.)

Non-violent resistance  

For Dr. King, non-violent resistance has six elements, according to the MLK Research and Education Institute at Stanford University:

“First, one can resist evil without resorting to violence. Second, nonviolence seeks to win the “friendship and understanding” of the opponent, not to humiliate him. Third, evil itself, not the people committing evil acts, should be opposed. Fourth, those committed to nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation as suffering itself can be redemptive. Fifth, nonviolent resistance avoids “external physical violence” and “internal violence of spirit” as well: “The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he also refuses to hate him”. The resister should be motivated by love in the sense of the Greek word agape, which means “understanding,” or “redeeming good will for all men”. The sixth principle is that the nonviolent resister must have a “deep faith in the future,” stemming from the conviction that “The universe is on the side of justice”

“Nonviolent resistance means neither cowardice nor passivity. Nonviolent resisters are not cowards but strong individuals; it takes strength to resist the use of violence. If, however, resisters are nonviolent because of fear or because they do not have the means of violence, they are not practicing true nonviolence.”


Deborah Leipziger

Deborah Leipziger

She is Consultant on Social Innovation, Sustainability, and Human Rights, Lecturer, Senior Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation, Babson College, USA, Founder, The Lexicon of Change

Owned by: Institute of Directors, India

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    Deborah Leipziger

    Author. Advisor. Sustainability Expert. Lecturer

    Author, Consultant on Social Innovation, Sustainability, and Human Rights, Lecturer, Senior Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation, Babson College, USA, Founder, The Lexicon of Change

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