I share this Letter from a Birmingham Jail, by and in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his Christ like love that lead to real change through peaceful demonstrations with dignity and purpose rather than calls for dead cops and disregard fellow citizens and the republic within which we all find ourselves together and for which many have fought and died in the pursuit of equality and justice for all.
There is a big difference between constructive tension that reveals the strength of character and dignity of people who are oppressed as apposed to destructive tension that makes use of racial slurs and expressions of anger and hate and teaches young children to have contempt for people of another race. You can’t fight hate with hate, as Dr. King himself said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
There appears to be a big difference between the civil rights movement of the past and the present day protesters whose messages are often unclear and un-unified but ultimately seem to always reduce to differences in economic standing. Even that one unifying message from protesters that seek special consideration and economic equality for one race seems to ignore the same economic circumstances suffered not just by the protesters and their race, but by the majority of people from all races, geographic locations, ethnicity and backgrounds.
Like every person including many hero’s, Martin Luther King Jr. had flaws and was known to have had affairs with women outside of his marriage. If he were being judged by the hypocrisy of today it is unclear if his message would have even been able to be heard over the tabloid news fixation about his character flaws. We appear to have become the great accusers happy to punish anyone as much as possible more concerned with form than with substance. Non-the-less, thankfully, Dr. King lived in different times when people appeared to recognize and accept the fact that no-one other than Christ is perfect.
It seemed in that in the past, people were willing to forgive each other more liberally than today. Perhaps forgiveness was more thoroughly integrated into the lifestyles of people in our society because religion was integrated into families and the schools. Judeo-Christian faith encourages people to do their best to live to a higher standard based on centuries old teachings and wisdom from the Bible. The faith also teaches people to exercise forgiveness liberally in light of the fact that we are all imperfect and often fail and act selfishly in spite of our best efforts to to live to any standard higher than our own limited thinking and feeling. Perhaps forgiveness is exactly what is needed today.
In a time when there is a national debate about whether current activists are intentionally and unnecessarily encouraging protests that involve hate speech and contempt for others rather than peaceful demonstration against unjust laws, what are your thoughts? During a time when there is a debate about whether protesters are asking for special favoritism rather than true equality through law, what do you think? In a time when there are questions about the integrity of facts, statistics and studies used “to determine whether injustices are alive” are in dispute, what do you think? At a time when there is a debate of the clarity of the issues and the reasonableness of demands being made by protesters, what do you think? At a time when the methods of protest appear to many to be misguided and misunderstood, what do you think? At a time when the fundamental issue that seems to divide the majority of people are those who think that the best solution to every problem is to seek to control the thoughts and reactions of others rather than focusing on controlling our own thoughts and actions and exercising self-responsibility, what do you think?
My own thoughts are clear. There can be no lasting solution to any of the particular problems that face us unless they are founded upon the tenants of Christ, in particular loving God and your neighbor, and most importantly forgiveness. Christ on the Cross forgave people who did not even ask to be forgiven. I believe that forgiveness is what is needed today more than anything.
Am I against protests, action and tension? Not for the right causes and performed with dignity in the right spirit, with love for your enemy and not with contempt and hatred. Contempt and hatred are the beginnings of armed conflict, not peaceful protests. As with many things today, I believe that many of the protesters lack clear goals and the protests themselves are done without negociation from the spirit of anger, hate and manipulation rather than from the spirit of love.
Romans 12.19-21 : Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. “
The protesters of the past had clearly defined goals and unfair laws and rules to change. They were being physically oppressed, hurt and ridiculed and they did not respond out of anger or hate. They were apposing evil that was easy to see and they did so not by hurling racial slurs and condemnation at their oppressors, but rather exhibiting real superiority and dignity by exercising patience under extraordinary situations. Protesters of the past invited the support of all people, even old veterans. Protesters of the past didn’t seek to agitate the wrong people who would otherwise be on their side. Protesters of the past took careful consideration for their methods of protest so that there could be no mistaking their intentions, integrity and sincerity. I believe the components that made such effective protests by Dr. King in the past are not present in today’s protests and “movements”.
Listen to the letter of Dr. King by clicking on the link below or read it by clicking on second link provided. What do you think? Scroll down to the end of this page to share your thoughts on my Facebook feed.
OR read it for yourself: