Sunday, November 09, 2008

Loving enemies

The election of the nation's first African American as President prompted numerous acts of racial hatred.

Nooses appeared in trees on the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas (take a look here) and on the property of Bell Helicopter here in the Metroplex. The Terrell, Texas newspaper didn't feel the election outcome important enough to merit front page coverage. Other examples abound.

Racism and hatred based on racial categories remain very much alive and well in the United States today.

Beyond the deep, grave sadness, I am lifted by the amazing words of America's greatest preacher of all time, a man of great courage, integrity and strength. Sadly, a man I heard vilified when I was a child, even in the church.

Hear him out today:

The relevance of what I have said to the crisis in race relations should be readily apparent. There will be no permanent solution to the, race problem until oppressed men develop the capacity to love their enemies. The darkness of racial injustice will be dispelled only by the light of forgiving love. For more than three centuries American Negroes have been battered by the iron rod of oppression, frustrated by day and bewildered by night by unbearable injustice and burdened with the ugly weight of discrimination. Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and to retaliate with a corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.

My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way.

While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.

To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered this message to the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Christmas 1957.



Anonymous said...

“For now, we have a new president-elect. In the spirit of reaching across the aisle, we owe it to the Democrats to show their president the exact same kind of respect and loyalty that they have shown our recent Republican president.”

--Ann Coulter

Chris said...

MLK had courage and strength but was sadly lacking in integrity. He was prone to martial infelidity, big time and not an occasional lapse, and plagiarism, both written and spoken. His "I have a Dream" speech was only one example of this. Do a little research.

Brandon Scott said...

It is my opinion that people are also prone to focusing on ANYTHING other than the clear racism and hypocricy that runs rampunt in our culture and churches today. I admire you so much for the arrows you take daily for the work God has called you to. Don't let the negative blog commentors of the world rob you of the joy you have in Jesus. Your post is RIGHT ON! I could not BELIEVE the story about Baylor. It was sickening.

Larry James said...

Thanks, Brandon Scott. I haven't heard anything from the Baylor U. administration except that they "are doing a thorough investigation." I hope they will go further. If I am the president of that university, I come out swinging hard with a clear, uniequivical statement that racism and acts of hatred will not be tolerated on the campus and that students, employees or anyone associated with the Baylor University family will be expelled permanently if tied to these acts of barbaric behavior. There is a cultural cancer at work here and only radical surgery will cure it or remove it. This is not the time for people of faith, justice and good will to remain silent.

Comments like those of Chris here don't help. My post was about Dr. King's courage and leadership. He was a sinner. I am a sinner. Chris is a sinner. Point given. Now read his words! Argue against them. Racism should not be tolerated in any form.

Brandon Scott said...

You're exactly right. I wish he had done that. He still needs to!

Anonymous said...


Martin Luther King, would have preferred to stay in the background, however, all of the morally perfect people were at home.

Here is a suggestion: if his imperfections bother you - please go to work on Martin Luther King Day. Do some research and if there are any rights of citizenship, such as rights you may enjoy vis-a-vis, the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act, that are applicable to you, please forego them. We wouldn't want you to be a hypecrite and selectively enjoy the fullness of citizenship that the rest of us enjoy because of the leadership of someone who doesn't measure up to your moral standards.