Tag Archives: Jr.

The Habit of Hating: How do we break it?

“I’ve decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

~ First John 4.20

Our hatred of a socially constructed race is inherited.  It’s not natural but passed down to us as a part of family tradition or perhaps, it is a rite of passage into our American society.

So constant and consistent is the message of hatred that it is normal and understandable to hate our neighbor, the stranger and foreigner… even though we don’t understand why.  We don’t even know how long we are to hate, when or if we should forgive.  It is the hatred that keeps on hating.

Though this response is not rooted in the Christian faith or Christ- like, our belief in race makes us unforgiving and some persons or cultural groups unforgivable. We hate people we have never met and whose names we do not know.  We hate people we’ve never seen and are yet unborn.  We hate people that walk passed us and that we drive by.  We hate people that we see on television and hear on the radio.

Hatred comes easily.  Anyone can hate.  But, love is for the strong and only love will survive.  So, how do we kick the habit of hating?  I’m glad you asked.

To love:

1.  It takes faith.  It won’t happen without God.  We need to believe in the Creator who is greater than us, whose thoughts are higher than our own and who thinks higher of us (Isaiah 55.9).  We must exchange our hatreds for God’s love, trusting that God’s way is best.

2.  It takes will.  We have to make a decision to love.  We have to choose to love everyday.  And we have to surround our selves with persons who have made the same decision.  Our inner conviction and conversation must match the convictions and conversations that we surround our selves with.  And love must be the only motivation.

3.  It takes desire.  We have to want to do love every one.  It has to become natural and necessary to exist in love and trust that we can thrive in love.  We have to be attracted to it, drawn to it and passionate about it.  We have learn that we are most fulfilled by love.

4.  It takes a village.  We cannot do it alone.  We need support and encouragement.  We need help to overcome our personal and cultural hatreds.  Consequently, we must seek out partners in love.  We must walk with those who agree to love people and hate race (Amos 3.3).

5.  It takes time.  Perhaps, it will take all of our time as this work will not produce an overnight success story.  It is not completed in twelve steps.  But, unconditional loving is to be our life’s work, to be committed to loving our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12.30-31).  We will break the habit of hating one day at a time and one person at a time.

Remembering King Nonviolently

“‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. …”

~ Jesus Christ, Matthew 5.38-39, NRSV

Today, persons across our nation and around the world will remember the life and legacy of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  His daughter Bernice has asked that we celebrate his life by not taking the lives of others.  She is calling for a “no shots fired” day reports The Chicago Tribune while pointing to the increased violence on television, in schools and other public places.

A recent article from The Washington Post argued that while his nonviolent demonstrations led to violent acts, that these peaceful protests also reminded persons of the humanity of those assaulted, of the dignity due them though dismissed because of the social construct of race.  King led a nonviolent movement and was so well- known for peace that he received the Nobel Peace Prize when he was only thirty- five years old.

He outlined principles of nonviolence in his book Stride Toward Freedom and they are shared on The King Center’s website.  They include:

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice, and utilizes the righteous indignation and the spiritual, emotional and intellectual capabilities of people as the vital force for change and reconciliation.
  2. The Beloved Community is the framework for the future. The nonviolent concept is an overall effort to achieve a reconciled world by raising the level of relationships among people to a height where justice prevails and persons attain their full human potential.
  3. Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. The nonviolent approach helps one analyze the fundamental conditions, policies and practices of the conflict rather than reacting to one’s opponents or their personalities.
  4. Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal. Self-chosen suffering is redemptive and helps the movement grow in a spiritual as well as a humanitarian dimension. The moral authority of voluntary suffering for a goal communicates the concern to one’s own friends and community as well as to the opponent.
  5. Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. The nonviolent attitude permeates all aspects of the campaign. It provides mirror type reflection of the reality of the condition to one’s opponent and the community at large. Specific activities must be designed to help maintain a high level of spirit and morale during a nonviolent campaign.
  6. The universe is on the side of justice. Truth is universal and human society and each human being is oriented to the just sense of order of the universe. The fundamental values in all of the world’s great religious include the concept that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. For the nonviolent practitioner, nonviolence introduces a new moral context in which nonviolence is both the means and the end.

Perhaps, on just this one day, we might be able to practice what he preached, what he lived, what he died for.

Additional Resources

Fellowship of Reconciliation, http://forusa.org/

The King Center, http://thekingcenter.org

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967). 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, (Harper & Brothers, 1958).

“I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life.”

~ Rev. Martin Luther, King, Jr., “The Most Durable Power”, November 6, 1956

Additional Resource

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sermon excerpt: “The Most Durable Power”, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, November 6, 1956.

Death by Silence

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Saturday, October 16, 2011, thousands gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  for the dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.   Like many children, one of the first persons that I learned about when being taught African American history in school was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Though we began with American slavery, the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement, it seems that his name stuck out and that we stayed on the story of the Civil Rights Movement longer.  Perhaps, it is better said that the story stayed with me. 

He is remembered as the leader of the Civil Rights Movment, for sit-ins, boycotts and marches.  But, he is also remembered for his sermons, letters and speeches.  Dr. King was as a great orator, a courageous dreamer.  In fact, the “I Have a Dream” speech is listed as the greatest speech of the 20th century.  He was for me and so many others, a modern- day Moses, leading the children of America away from the turbulent history of racism and slavery toward the promised land and future of reconciliation and peace.  And though he will not get there with us, as he informed us during his delivery of the message now titled “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” delivered on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, I am encouraged this morning to keep looking up and to keep speaking this truth.

It has been said that silence is deadly but I would argue that we can also die silently.  What we knowingly prevent ourselves from saying and consequently, accepting can serve as one of the many little deaths of self that occur when living a racialized life.  With the acceptance and repetition of stereotypes, the practice of prejudice and self- segregation, we lose more of our voice, more of our unique presence.  We allow race to turn down the volume of our lives and in some instances, mute our very existence.  Persons say, “Speak truth to power” or “Speak the truth in love”; both of  which are directed toward others.  Today, I would challenge you to speak the truth to yourself as an expression of love and power.  Don’t just accept the constant attacks of race on your character and personhoood.  Don’t just sit back and say nothing to stop it. Talk and live.

Dr. King died but not quietly.  Even death could not prevent him from speaking; instead, it amplified his voice and enabled his message, which is but an expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be shared with others.  His life will never end because he spoke about the things that matter.  He spoke the truth.  So, what are you saying?