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Black Lives Matter: The Citizenship Ideal

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" We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality...Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly...Strangely enough I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be..." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Common Philosophy

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One September Sunday morning, something very important happened. Even though I was still quite fatigued from my work week, I performed my usual morning meditation but afterward the following new thoughts began to enter my mind. In my journal I wrote:

Because we are a nation which is so diverse and can only function peacefully as a melting pot, meaning that our differences have to blend rather than form barriers which polarize and divide: We must have a common philosophy. This philosophy must assert, at minimum, that in order to have a better life we must dedicate our lives to each other...

These thoughts find their roots in a theme that was first introduced in my memoir, The Tao of Public Service and which I have been trying to clearly articulate ever since.

These Sunday morning thoughts are important because their tendrils seem to seek and find support in the idea of mutuality.

The Principle of Mutuality

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My favorite quote from The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., comes from an address he gave entitled "The American Dream." In that speech he said in part:

All life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people cannot expect to live more than twenty or thirty years, no man can be totally healthy, even if he just got a clean bill of health from the finest clinic in America. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way the world is made. I didn't make it that way, but this is the interrelated structure of reality. John Donne caught it a few centuries ago and could cry out, "No man is an island entire of itself; Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." If we are to realize the American dream we must cultivate this world perspective.

The Obligations and Expectations of Citizenship

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Eric Z. Lucas is an alumnus of Stanford University (Creative Writing Major: 1972-1975), the University of Washington (1981: BA English Literature and Elementary Education) and Harvard Law School, J.D. 1986. Since law school he has been a public (more...)

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