This man’s beliefs, his fight, serve as another reminder that only people matter, not things, and certainly not ego. Only humanity.
As a child I recall learning that this man was a great leader for black rights in America. As a child I did not understand the full role which Dr King encompassed. As an adult I re-visited the history. I read Dr Kings work, and it changed me.
It turns out that Dr King was not a “black rights leader” as I understood him to be as a child, he was a civil rights leader. In his time, it was black America that was being repressed and segregated. If Dr King were alive today he’d still be fighting that fight, as black America is still being repressed and segregated (albeit a much lesser degree). Ah, but I have no doubt he’d be also fighting for woman’s rights, LBGTQ rights, and Muslim rights.
You see, Dr King was not driven by his love for black America, or a hate for white America, but by a love for ALL of mankind. And through this love his method of fighting was passive resistance. Passive resistance is a method I believe in very deeply. It is a method of resistance that must stem from love, not hate. It requires great strength of character. And more importantly, it requires that we put our cause, our purpose, before ourselves. Let me repeat that. It requires that we but our cause before ourselves. THAT is what makes a leader. It is also the reason we haven’t seen any in a very long time. A leader is willing to sacrifice all for their cause/purpose.
Dr King writes and speaks often of the three types of love: Eros (erotic), Philos (interpersonal relationships), and Agape (a much broader spiritual love that is not focused on any specific person). Actually he speaks really only of Agape love, which is the truest love there is. It is an unconditional love. It is a divine love for God (and God’s laws) and all of humanity. It is a love that doesn’t segregate or judge. I believe that it goes without saying that Agape asserts one of my favorite laws of logic, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
So with Agape, self sacrifice to meet a greater end is implied. It is this love that is missing in the world today. Violence of any kind, serves only to hurt this kind of love. One can not inflict harm on another, and do it in the name of Agape love.
As I said before, passive resistance requires a great strength of character. Passive resistance requires that one stand firm in their ground like a mighty oak without actually engaging the enemy. To be non-violent even in when violence is being done to us. To get knocked down, stand back up again, look the enemy in the face and say “I’m not going anywhere …… you move.” THAT IS STRENGTH. Human instinct tells us to meet violence with violence. That’s just letting hate get the best of us. There is absolutely nothing strong about just giving in to our instinct. There are no winners when violence is met with violence, and the only thing that onlookers learn is that we must destroy the enemy to get what we want. That somehow we have needs more important than human life. Nothing is more important than human life, not even freedom.
Also, passive resistance has a way of exposing the wrongful party for ALL onlookers to see. When the conflicting parties literally physically display that one party is fueled by hate, and the other by love, it becomes a no-brainer who the righteous party is.
Passive resistance worked then, and it will work now. But it is a method that requires great sacrifice. We must find it in our hearts to have Agape love.
Dr King was also a believer in making a difference in business America (now corporate America), by exercising the strength of our dollar. By that, I mean a good old fashion boycott. If we want to take the power away from the power elite, stop giving them our money. Instead spend our money within our class, local small businesses. Remember, there are a lot more of us then there are of them, we can be self reliant. They however, cannot.
I have read many works of Dr King, but my favorite is this one:
I will end with one of my favorite of Dr King’s quotes:
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Happy Martin Luther King Jr day.