Martin Luther King Day

“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.”

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

We celebrate today the birth and the impact of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. As I was looking over some of his famous quotes- and rest assured, he was phenomenally quotable- I saw many of those quotes extolling the need and the virtues of non-violence.

How ironic, of course, that this man of avowed non-violence, died at the hands of violence. Indeed, Jesus too preached love and non-violence, and died a violent death. The powerful words of Jesus, Mohandas Ghandi, and Martin Luther King- advocates of non-violence- led them to destruction.

What does this say about society? Those people who have less facility with words, or failure to have a cogent discussion with others, evidently must resort to violence, in their own minds, to be heard. There is an old saying that is humorous, but also contains some seeds of truth. It is said to be a strategy of some attorneys in court cases. It goes like this:

If you have the evidence, pound the evidence. If you have the facts, pound the facts. If you don’t have facts or evidence, pound the table!

Perhaps taken to its logical conclusion, people who feel powerless and who have very few acceptable social outlets, resort to violence in order to feel “heard”.

We see evidence of violent expression all around us. Dr. King and so many other brilliant prophets, have tried over the centuries to plead for true communication to make changes in an unjust world.

Our best tribute to these precious prophets would be to have reasonable discussion of differing points of view to truly hear others, not just to be heard.

As Dr. King said “I have a dream”. He had a dream of a society of people that listened to one another with respect and honorable intentions.

Maybe we all have that dream.

Prayer: Lord, give us ears to hear others, and the courage to act justly, Amen

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