Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Strength to Love: The Legacy of MLK, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., PhD, an unbeatable leader in social activism, embraced contradictions.  He was frequently put in positions of power and influence, but he sought to be humble and to use his words to heal and empower.  He was revered, and his word taken at face value, but he never stopped pushing his intellect and educating himself to draw conclusions. He had every opportunity to become a self-obsessed, egomaniac, or to consider himself a martyr, but he spent his time in self-reflective thought and repentant prayer.  I cannot envision a more ideal leader in the activist community, than someone committed to nonviolent direct action out of love.  To be nonviolent in the face of opposition takes so much courage and takes a greater understanding of the merits of love.  I use this entry to re-publish  MLK, Jr.'s words as compiled in his book, Strength to Love.

My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean that we abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of our energy we must continue to rid this nation of the incubus of segregation. But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.

To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.

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