Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Weakness of Violence

Tomorrow is our national celebration of the life and work of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a powerful, insightful speaker and often, I reread his speeches and writings, marveling at his thoughts and phrasing.

In tribute to him today and tomorrow, I will feature one of my favorite, and less-well known quotations on the blog for all of us to ponder.

In his book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? written in 1967, King wrote:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Part of this quotation is inscribed on one of the marble walls around the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.

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