Revolution of the Heart
“The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart… – Dorothy Day
Forty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. called for a revolution of values while Dorothy Day, working with the homeless, suggested a ‘revolution of the heart’. Both of these great leaders worked with the poor, the marginalized, those without status or power. They witnessed the pain of lives led in a world not visible to others, men and women with much potential, living at the margins, feeling like nothing and nobody, because the world couldn’t recognize their value, discounted their potential, was blind to their worth and dignity, could not see their gifts.
There are many lessons in being poor and invisible, hard lessons but shimmering with promise to transform the way we see, the way we treat human beings, and the vital heart knowledge that comes from being an outsider. In that non-visible world where a person’s worth is rarely validated, the heart learns to care about people who suffer and struggle because it has suffered and struggled. The heart learns to find some core of your being which allows you to pick yourself up every day and go on. You learn to make the best of what is, to be grateful for every small kindness. When the heart breaks open, there is a new way of seeing. Those who are lowly seem tender, heroic. You see their struggle, their trying, and their dignity. You realize the illusion of power, that it’s easy to be proud, to wave your arms around expansively when you have money and status, easy to feel good about what ‘your’ accomplishments.
But the lessons from life’s underside are deep. When the heart’s eyes open, it sees human potential in its fullness, the gifts that lie dormant. The values of the heart desire that everyone be welcome at God’s table, that everyone have clean water, a place to sleep, that everyone be acknowledged, respected and able to live out their dreams. When all people are seen, this revolution of values will breathe life into a new justice and equality, humanity’s highest dream.