Martin Luther King on Love and Nonviolence

Martin Luther King Jr. is a figure from the recent past who continues to stir our cultural imagination.  Unfortunately, much of our culture has fallen away from King’s message and succumbed to forms violence.  Television, movies, music – it seems as though violence has become an accepted part of our culture.  The violence modeled in our culture desensitizes us to our common humanity.  Violence then becomes easier and easier to justify.  Fortunately, King continues to model an alternative and provides the antidote to the contagion of violence in our culture.  That antidote is love.  In his book Strength to Love, King wrote apocalyptically about the decisions that face humanity.  Either we will be consumed by a spirit of hate and destroy one another, or we will survive by the spirit of love that embraces even our enemies.  King wrote:

Upheaval after upheaval has reminded us that modern man is traveling along a road called hate, in a journey that will bring us to destruction and damnation.  Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, the command to love one’s enemy is an absolute necessity for our survival.  Love even for enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of our world.  Jesus is not an impractical idealist: he is the practical realist. (49-50)

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