"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
— Martin Luther King Jr.
I'd better write this tonight while I'm bleary-eyed, before I read all of the well written and thought out blogs tomorrow, celebrating what would have been your 82nd birthday. Before reading more about the Arizona gunman and people pleading for another charismatic leader to stop the madness. Then I would certainly chicken out. But tonight, it's just you and me. I LOVE celebrating you - always have (and not just because we got a day off of school).
You were murdered the year I was born, a fact which has always frightened/fascinated me. Do we really live in a world where good people are punished? How can there be a God? Yet you were a man of deep faith, embodying this idea of radical love and have always been one of my biggest heroes. Darkness begets darkness . . . we are what we think and believe, aren't we, Dr. King?
You planted a seed of social activism that blossomed and complemented my Christian/bohemian upbringing: your crossover of Christian ideals and Ghandi-like philosophy appealed to my budding soul. You were responsible for my becoming politicized: as a teen I marched and I canvassed for no nukes, civil rights, gay rights, women's rights, the environment. I wanted to live in and believe in a world where radical love was possible. I lost my faith in my early '20's, Dr. King. I had some difficult times and some hard knocks. Then I channeled my energy into becoming a therapist, a mother, a writer, but always with the hope of being of service.
My husband and I were awed by the National Civil Rights Museum when we drove through Memphis on our cross country road trip 13 years ago. The museum was built around the Lorraine Motel where you were assassinated. We spent an entire day there, hearts in our throat. It's one thing to have knowledge of these events, and quite another to have visual and tactile context.
My faith ebbs and flows, but I love taking time to remember you, Dr. King - a man whose spiritual and civic duty were one and the same. A man who died for what he believed in.
Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.