Today, the United States of America will live through a day which is charged with irony. On one hand, its citizens will hear a discourse given with the aid of teleprompters from the Commander-in-Chief of the most lethal killing machine on the planet. On the other, the same nation will celebrate one of the greatest community organizers and peacemakers of modern times, Martin Luther King, Jr.
In honor of the Dr. King, we wish to share perhaps some little known facts about the man who immortalized the words, “I have a dream.”
The first is that Martin Luther King was seeking a relatively low-key role in the desegregation movement that he is now recognized as the leader of. According to the documentary of the Civil Rights Movement, “Soundtrack for a Revolution,” Dr. King was thrust into the leadership role of the movement in Alabama largely so that the local leaders could save face should it fail.
The second, and most enduring, are the tactics which Dr. King employed in mobilizing forces against segregation, those of non-violent resistance. These tactics made the American Civil Rights Movement both unique and undeniably effective.
In Dr. King’s time, non-violent resistance had been most recently employed on a large-scale by Gandhi in India. Non-violent resistance is the idea that acts of non-resistance in the face of aggression are more powerful than the all of the weapons and anger on earth, for it is clear that fighting violence with violence tends to lead to further violence. In order to break the cycle of violence, it must be confronted with peace.
Some of the most eloquent defenses of Dr. King’s moral guiding light have been written by relative unknowns such as Adin Ballou, who wrote the Catechism of Non-Resistance, and William Lloyd Garrison, who penned the Declaration of non-resistance.
In practice, Dr. King employed the tactics championed by Wyatt Tee Walker, who advocated direct but peaceful confrontation in the form of protests and marches. The premise being that unjust laws, such as those employed to maintain the policy of segregation, would not stand in the face of public scrutiny if peacefully resisted on a large-scale.
Today, in honor of one of the greatest leaders of the modern age, let us embrace non-aggression and turning the other cheek as the ultimate solution to our problems, if even for a day.
Famous quotes attributed to Dr. King:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“the time is always right to do the right thing”