MLK Junior’s Antidotes to Hate and Tribalism

MLK Junior’s Antidotes to Hate and Tribalism January 17, 2022

In my lifetime (I’m 40 at the time of this writing), I’ve never seen such divisive times. Perhaps its just more visible than ever with social media. To be fair, there have certainly been periods of tension in my memory, but there is a unique spirt that worries me; one of tribalism and hatred – an alarming “us vs them” sentiment.

I’ve always been inspired by what I believe to be the cure found in John 1:5; that “the light shines in the darkness”. On this note, and as Martin Luther King Jr day is upon us, I was drawn to one of his favorite quotes for which he no doubt drew inspiration from John 1:5:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

But there is another gem from MLK Jr’s “I have a dream speech” found in people being judged by the “content of their character”, not the “color of their skin”. To the racism he was taking aim at, we’re certainly in a better place than when he uttered these words, yet we’re clearly nowhere near where we need to be. Beyond our specific racial tribes, there are profoundly divided ideological tribes; political, philosophical, and religious.

If hate and tribalism are the poisons, only love and character could be the antidotes. Going beyond tribes, the tension, the us vs. them mentality – and looking into the soul of every human not only as equal, but sacred, poetically and lyrically summated in Bob Marley’s “one love”.

Souls viewed as sacred and equal – judged on the content of their character – hate countered with love. Should we be inspired by how far we’ve come or moved by how much more we need to go? On this MLK Jr holiday, I find myself both inspired and moved by his dream – inspired by our progress, horrified at our setbacks, and moved to continue the dream to see character and love be our guides.

Image credit: Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer

Source: Wikimedia Commons


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