An interesting blog that I was informed about has stimulated reading of some speeches from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. From thence comes the following:
And I tell you this morning, my friends, the reason we got to solve this problem here in America: Because God somehow called America to do a special job for mankind and the world. Never before in the history of the world have so many racial groups and so many national backgrounds assembled together in one nation. And somehow if we can’t solve the problem in America the world can’t solve the problem, because America is the world in miniature and the world is America writ large. And God set us out with all of the opportunities. He set us between two great oceans; made it possible for us to live with some of the great natural resources of the world. And there he gave us through the minds of our forefathers a great creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
This was a very powerful statement for me. If at times I come across as overly critical of the U.S. policies, foreign and domestic, it is because I feel the same as Reverend King. We, in the USA have the greatest opportunity and obligation to make the world a better place. Some may believe that the neo-conservative movement is the way to accomplish that change. I disagree. Others may believe that socialism is the way to make the change. Again, I disagree. However, that doesn’t diminish the proposition by Rev. King that the U.S. is a provident land and in so being has an obligation to be better than its enemies, above the fray, not abide by “business as usual,” but be unusual in its approach to problems.
What do I believe the way to accomplish the change is? I’ll let Dr. King explain in words that are much better than mine:
And I would like to say to you this morning what I’ve tried to say all over this nation, what I believe firmly: that in seeking to make the dream a reality we must use and adopt a proper method. I’m more convinced than ever before that nonviolence is the way. I’m more convinced than ever before that violence is impractical as well a immoral. If we are to build right here a better America, we have a method as old as the insights of Jesus of Nazareth and as modern as the techniques of Mohandas K. Gandhi. We need not hate; we need not violence. We can stand up before our most violent opponent and say: We will match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all god conscience obey your unjust laws, because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, so throw us in jail. We will go into those jails and transform them from dungeons of shame to havens of freedom and human dignity. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities after midnight hours and drag us out on some wayside road and beat us and leave us half-dead, and as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Somehow go around the country and use your propaganda agents to make it appear that we are not fit culturally, morally, or otherwise for integration, and we will still love you. Threaten our children and bomb our homes, and as difficult as it is, we will still love you.
But be assured that we will ride you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we will win our freedom, but we will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and your conscience that we will win you in the process. And our victory will be a double victory.
Oh yes, love is the way. Love is the only absolute. More and more I see this. I’ve seem too much hate to want to hate myself; hate is too great a burden to bear. I’ve seen it on the faces of too many sheriffs of the South–I’ve seen hate. In the faces and even the walk of too many Klansmen of the South, I’ve seen hate. Hate distorts the personality. Hate does something to the soul that causes one to lose his objectivity. The man who hates can’t think straight; the man who hates can’t reason right; the man who hates can’t see right; the man who hates can’t walk right. And I know now that Jesus is right, that love is the way. And this is why John said, “God is love,” so that he who hates does not know God, but he who loves at that moment has the key that opens the door to the meaning of ultimate reality. So this morning there is so much that we have to offer the world.
You may think I’m an unrealistic idealist, but the ultimate reality is that charity never faileth. We can try other vehicles for change, and they may make some mild adjustments to the course, but the only way to establish peace will be to love.
Our most challenging days are ahead of us. However, the best days are there too. Even today we are challenged with loving the “unlovable” in our lives, our communities, our world. Please take up the challenge and let us love our enemies, until we have no more enemies and no more strangers.