The Foundation of Such a Method.…

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. 

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