Today, I watched Colin Powell on the television show, “The View,” speaking briefly about Martin Luther King, Jr. as the non-violent leader of the “second Civil War” in this country. I was struck by the notion of a second Civil War because it does so aptly describe what must be acknowledged: cultures change slowly and King’s voice, along with many others, would not let this country sleep by virtue of a dream of a genuinely human and complete liberation, not just a political one. It’s wonderful that today many people don’t think twice about a black man or a woman running for President. It wasn’t that way not so many years ago. And, yes, there is still so much work to do.
“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
–Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 1964
Standing up against oppression so rapidly slips toward striking back in return. The “fight” against aggression quickly becomes a justification for more killing. The desire to end any war so easily gives birth to all the makings of a bomb. To believe in non-violence is therefore a radically civilizing, spiritualizing act, perhaps the most fundamental fork in the global human road. There is the violence of war and the “war” against violence itself. How can the world survive without making this so simple and so complex, most basic of all basic decisions that seems for us as individuals, let alone society as a whole, so difficult to master? Yes, and how can such a joyful choice — a choice that may often seem to contradict the facts of our painful experiences with one another — be made without discovering and surrendering to an inner portal of love?
This constantly renewed choice, moment after moment after moment, day after day, year after year, in all relationships (including the one with ourselves) could be said to honor the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.
And that’s what I think today is about.