Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Non-Violence

As you know, on the weekends, I like to highlight the words, views, and creations of other visionaries. Today’s excerpt from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King comes a week before his U.S. birthday celebration, but I think we need to be reminded now.

from The Power of Non-violence
Martin Luther King, Jr.
June 4, 1957

Nonviolent resistance is not a method of cowardice. It does resist. It is not a method of stagnant passivity and deadening complacency. The nonviolent resister is just as opposed to the evil that he is standing against as the violent resister but he resists without violence. This method is nonaggressive physically but strongly aggressive spiritually…

NOT TO HUMILIATE BUT TO WIN OVER

The nonviolent resister does not seek to humiliate or defeat the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding…The end of violence or the aftermath of violence is bitterness. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of a beloved community. A boycott is never an end within itself. It is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor but the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption.

Then we [have] to make it clear also that the nonviolent resister seeks to attack the evil system rather than individuals who happen to be caught up in the system. And this is why I say from time to time that the struggle in the South is not so much the tension between white people and Negro people. The struggle is rather between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And if there is a victory it will not be a victory merely for fifty thousand Negroes. But it will be a victory for justice, a victory for good will, a victory for democracy…

Nonviolent resistance is also an internal matter. It not only avoids external violence or external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. And so at the center of our movement stood the philosophy of love. The attitude that the only way to ultimately change humanity and make for the society that we all long for is to keep love at the center of our lives.

Now people used to ask me from the beginning what do you mean by love and how is it that you can tell us to love those persons who seek to defeat us and those persons who stand against us; how can you love such persons? And I had to make it clear all along that love in its highest sense is not a sentimental sort of thing, not even an affectionate sort of thing.

AGAPE LOVE

The Greek language uses three words for love. It talks about eros. Eros is a sort of aesthetic love. It has come to us to be a sort of romantic love and it stands with all of its beauty.

But when we speak of loving those who oppose us we’re not talking about eros. The Greek language talks about philia and this is a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends. This is a vital, valuable love. But when we talk of loving those who oppose you and those who seek to defeat you we are not talking about eros or philia.

The Greek language comes out with another word and it is agape. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive good will for all men. Biblical theologians would say it is the love of God working in the minds of men.

It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. And when you come to love on this level you begin to love men not because they are likeable, not because they do things that attract us, but because God loves them and here we love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. It is the type of love that stands at the center of the movement that we are trying to carry on in the Southland—agape.

SOME POWER IN THE UNIVERSE THAT WORKS FOR JUSTICE

I am quite aware of the fact that there are persons who believe firmly in nonviolence who do not believe in a personal God, but I think every person who believes in nonviolent resistance believes somehow that the universe in some form is on the side of justice.

That there is something unfolding in the universe whether one speaks of it as a unconscious process, or whether one speaks of it as some unmoved mover, or whether someone speaks of it as a personal God.

There is something in the universe that unfolds for justice and so in Montgomery we felt somehow that as we struggled we had cosmic companionship. And this was one of the things that kept the people together, the belief that the universe is on the side of justice.

God grant that as men and women all over the world struggle against evil systems they will struggle with love in their hearts, with understanding good will. Agape says you must go on with wise restraint and calm reasonableness but you must keep moving.

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  • January 9, 2011, 1:19 pm Zot Lynn Szurgot

    Thank you ever so much, Beth. As national events sweep over and through us, this reminder is timely in that small sense; as international events continue their bloody sweep even while we are distracted from them, this reminder is timely in that very great sense. Keeping a clear and mindful separation between an evil system and the “individuals who happen to be caught up in the system” is crucial not only to the success of nonviolent interventions, but also any efforts toward reform, revolution, or human progress of any kind. It is the institutions and thought-forms of power-over that are the enemy, not the collaborators or those of us snared. In another small, private, sense, i feel supported by you as i feel my own deep pacifism is dissed by some of our allies who speak of defending endangered species, wilderness, and ecosystems (they often use the buzzword ‘landbase’). They speak not of an orderly dismantling of civilization, but of hastening its collapse as soon as possible by any means necessary. Some of them don’t even speak of building alternative forms and services, just the urgency of destroying all industry. i am personally extremely upset and anguished by this dissing by folks who should be our allies. It does not shake my pacifism, nor give me doubts about it, but it seems tragic that among the few who can see the largest ecosphere problems without turning away, some wish to address them using old and tired forms of power-over thinking and feeling. A new wave of rhetoric that belittles nonviolence is moving through some of our ecocentric allies, our antianthropocentric allies, our environmental and animal-rights and indigenous-solidarity allies. They are not seeing with us the beauty, creativity, and particularly the power of nonviolent defense of species and the landbases (and waters) we all depend upon. Thank you for helping us stay awake, peaceful, strong, and vibrant in our resistance.

  • January 9, 2011, 1:56 pm Beth

    Zot Lynn.. I have tears in my eyes, my good friend. So true, so true.. Thank you for this..

    Along these lines, I recommend the entire speech, which I’ve linked to in my intro paragraph, as well as a later one here.

    In the latter especially, Dr. King addresses the more radical and violent factions that were coming into the civil rights movement in the mid-60s; that were making it seem that at best, his non-violent vision was quaint and ineffectual, and at worst it was implicit collaboration.

    We only need to look at history to see how violence only begets more violence. All sides of the issues, including ours, alas, have their radical elements, and unfortunately, when news becomes entertainment, the most shrill nutcases get the limelight.

    Violence from guns begins with violent words and attitudes, and when our culture’s complacency tolerates it and feeds it to our children as heroism and entertainment, no wonder we reap the whirlwind.

  • January 9, 2011, 3:08 pm Susan Rossi

    Beth and Zot Lynn, you have addressed the core of the issue. You cannot think one thing and produce another, so if our culture glamorizes violence and power-over, or embraces these as ways to solve problems, only violence results. “Fighting for peace” and “making war on industry” does not create a new vision for us to move towards. Ultimately we all want the same thing: a healthy planet where all beings are respected and able to sustain themselves and their families. So, let us move into the New Year holding the vision that we can create that without violence and hate.