Sunday, January 16, 2011

Love as a Concealed Weapon

Martin Luther King always made it clear his mission was more than just passive resistance to evil.

At the start of the Montgomery bus boycott, he told followers, “If we are arrested every day, if we are exploited every day, if we are trampled over every day, don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate him. We must use the weapon of love.”

In the years that followed, with the emerging importance of television, Dr. King went beyond words and used the full power of body rhetoric, planning marches for the nightly news to elicit images of brutality against his people--guns, clubs, police dogs and high—pressure fire hoses--to win support for his cause.

"In the process of gaining our rightful place," Dr. King said at the Lincoln Memorial, "we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds….we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."

As we celebrate his birthday after a week of trauma and search for redemption, his beliefs echo in the words of an African-American president whose election would have been unthinkable without Martin Luther King's life and his own brutal death.

Receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, Barrack Obama said, "As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak--nothing passive, nothing naïve--in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King."

This week in Tuscon, the President said, ""We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another...Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together."

In his lifetime, that's what Martin Luther King did, believing "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." As we head into another year of public turbulence, it will take all our own strength to keep believing that.

1 comment:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Lovely post, Mr. Stein. Dr. Alveda King, MLK's niece, is very active with the Tea Party, and she, like her uncle (and us), also speaks of the power of love and truth. She's told us that "the heart of America will begin to melt in the face of truth." I believe that. Violence is never the answer to political differences, and certainly not in a country as great as ours--one in which we can make our voice heard in our freedom of speech and in the voting booth.