MLK Jr on Love and Illumination

Change is hard. Inertia has its own unrelenting staying power, perhaps no more apparent in the great civil rights struggles. With Ghandi as a major influence, and Christ as his ultimate measure, Martin Luther King Junior’s insistence on love and nonviolence was the epoch needed for change.

It’s more than counterintuitive to not trade violence for violence. At the exact opposite end of the Civil Rights movement was Malcolm X, embracing an eye for an eye mentality and racial separation. But MLK Jr’s timeless legacy reminds us that only light can illuminate the darkness and love can transcend hate.

In his words:

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says ‘Love your enemies,’ he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies– or else? The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” (Strength to Love)

Image credit: Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer

Source: Wikimedia Commons


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