Remembering the example of MLK in the fight against injustice
From the Editor’s desk
Imagine extending a hand toward a so-called enemy and then calling him a beloved brother. It is not a feat many could manage, but such an act is the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Every year on the third Monday in January since the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day was observed in 1986, the American people take a day to honor the life of King and to serve their communities. This year especially, the American people could benefit from examining the teachings of King.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader of the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He led this charge with nonviolent civil disobedience, which later won him a Nobel Peace Prize. King organized numerous boycotts, sit-ins, marches and protests which led to landmark changes in legislation and desegregation in America. His impact on America and beyond is still felt today.
King’s principles and philosophies inspire many, just as King said the examples of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jesus Christ inspired him. King described in his first book Stride Toward Freedom his six principals on nonviolence.
In his first three principals, King describes nonviolence as the lifestyle of the courageous who lead with friendship and understanding to defeat injustice, rather than individuals, in the hope to eliminate evils and find redemption. His last three principles detail that nonviolence takes on suffering and the transformative and educational benefits it can yield; nonviolence makes the conscious choice to choose unselfish love over hate and violence; and nonviolent resisters have faith that the universe and God are on the side of justice which will prevail.
Americans seek inspiration for moving forward from recent violence and division. Rings of “no justice; no peace” still reverberate in our ears; flashbacks to months ago with cities on fire and in turmoil across America still show in our minds; and confusion and anger still rise in many as pictures of groups storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 still flood social media and television screens. In a time riddled with uncertainty and controversy, where some think unity and peace unreachable, King’s example reminds Americans of the value, honor and integrity found in nonviolent protest.
King was willing to suffer and sacrifice to help others through peaceful protest. He was not willing to sacrificing himself nor others through violence because he did not see those against him as his enemy but his fellow citizen and victim of injustice.
King taught that injustice is the enemy. It is an enemy we have not yet defeated. If we have any hope of doing so, individuals must choose to seek positive change through nonviolent action. Otherwise, they may waste their time waging battle against their own communities in the name of fighting an injustice which they themselves perpetuate.
What kind of world would we live in if we were to choose a radical empathy for our fellow man over radical ideologies of hate? Focusing on what we hate about one another will not bring health, happiness or prosperity. Hating one another only spreads seeds of injustice and oppression which divide us further.
So, we encourage one another to look at the life and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and others who peacefully sought change and meditate on their examples during this time. We then encourage each individual to make the choice for true empathy, equality, unity and nonviolence. We cannot use the weapons of hate and injustice to defeat injustice; only righteousness and integrity can do that.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” said King in his sermon “Loving Your Enemies” delivered on Dec. 25, 1957.
— Faith Byars
UCC student and believer in freedom
The Mainstream Managing Editor
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