Our ‘network of mutuality’ — thoughts on Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 18, 2021


By Allison Gaines Pell, Head of School

Last year on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, I stood at his memorial in Washington DC, staring at its inscription:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

It would be just weeks before the pandemic would take hold, laying bare the reality of our interconnectedness – tender, raw, unjust – in ways we could not have foretold. The days between then and today have been filled with learning, growth, and despair, and rife with difficulties that at once inspire us for good and at times bring out our worst.

Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy is the flame he lit not only in large groups but within each person who realized and rediscovered their interdependence. That small force inside us grew stronger and prompted action. While we celebrate heroes (and certainly he was one), it is because of the bravery of each person to acknowledge this “single garment of destiny” and to act on its behalf that we can celebrate his legacy in our lives today.

I wish us all peace, renewed purpose, and security this week as new federal leadership assumes office in Washington just steps from this monument. May that inscription cast a light on the moment, and help us to hold on to the lessons in mutuality so hard-won through this pandemic.

Photo of Head of School's shadow standing at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in DC in 2020.
Photo by Allison Gaines Pell, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, 2020

Related Reading