Today, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, a man who spoke to the conscience of a nation through his words of nonviolence. At a time in our history when – like now – our society was deeply polarized, Martin nevertheless urged us to love those with whom we disagree:
Compassion and nonviolence helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view, we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers [and sisters] who are called the opposition.
Martin truly believed in the infinite worth of every human being, that in order to truly see the face of God in every person, we must encounter one another in the spirit of love – not in the specter of fear.
We must embrace the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man [and woman] is somebody because [s]he is a child of God. Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.
The question remains. Will we choose to be children of fear and darkness or children of love and light? We have an unfinished social and spiritual agenda begun by a man who deeply believed that despite our differences, we could achieve understanding and peace. In a nation deeply divided, let us seize this moment to summon up the courage to leave our cocoons of complacency and apathy and enter the arena where dwells hope, forgiveness, and reconciliation.