dr. king’s love

01_16_2011_martin-luther-king-e1377613318307

{image is a photo of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. January, 1929 – April, 1968}

Today, as we honor the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we read his words in a context that feels in many ways to be no less fraught, no less complex, no less urgent than the time in which he first delivered them.

“History,” Dr. King said, “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.”

Today, as some in the highest seats of power seek not progress but provocation, not the cementing of equality but the rolling back of hard-won rights, not unification but the scapegoating on which their platform so desperately depends, the Reverend’s words do not read as dusty relics of our nation’s past, but rather a searing testimony to our present.

“I am not afraid of the words “crisis” and “tension,” he said. “I deeply oppose violence, but constructive crisis and tension are necessary for growth. Innate in all life, and all growth, is tension. Only in death is there an absence of tension. To cure injustices, you must expose them before the light of human conscience and the bar of public opinion, regardless of whatever tensions that exposure generates.”

I have read those words more times than I can count over the years and yet I find myself called to them again and again and yet again still, their startling relevance to this moment in history a scathing testimony to how much work is yet to be done.

Dr. King was murdered before many of us were born and yet still he calls us to action: to introspection, to justice, to the resistance of retrogression and an unwavering insistence upon forward movement.

“As much as I deplore violence,” he said, “there is one evil that is worse than violence, and that’s cowardice.”

In an age when retribution is often as immediate as it is devastating, even the smallest acts of protest can be daunting. But silence is complicity and complicity is harm.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it,” the Reverend said. “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

One of Dr King’s most oft-repeated quotes is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

It’s easy to repeat, but much harder to live. Because the love of which he speaks is not passive. It is not meek. It is not quiet.

The love that drives out hate is messy. It’s disruptive. It’s loud. It’s brave.

The love that drives out hate is an irresistible yearning to be better, to do better, to dig deep into the place where our humanity dwells and to bring forth from that place the very best of what we find there.

Dr. King’s love is a call to action. A call not to hope for but to get down into the dirt and BUILD the world of which he dreamed.

“The time is always right to do what is right,” Dr King said. The time, my friends, is now.

One thought on “dr. king’s love

  1. I was just thinking about how little has changed. It’s heartbreaking actually. It’s like if our society were a house, we could say it’s got fresh paint but the foundation is still rotten. And it’s only gotten worse.

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