Martin Luther King Jr. and Non-Violent Principles

A thought behind the idea of Cultivating Ethos is that to change the social environment, the tangible and intangible ethos of a household, a dorm, a business, a community, a church, a city, even a country, is that intentional, thoughtful work is involved.   We must cultivate.   When Jesus asks us to make disciples, is not a passive order.   We must cultivate.   To do this, we need tools, knowledge and most importantly, wisdom; wisdom to navigate the reality of the complexities of the human heart and human relatioships.

There is no simple solution to racism or poverty or abortion or violence or other actions that destroy community.   Laws can be passed, but they don't change hearts.  They merely alter the behavior of the oppressor, sometimes inadvertently for the worse, and they tend to give only limited help to those who are oppressed, and only to those with the power or personal strength to pursue a legal path.  

However, we are not without guidance, there is a light on the right path.  There are principles we are given in the scriptures to help us.   Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

Much extrapolation can be done with all of this.   But for the Martin Luther King Holliday, I think it's worth posting his Six Principles of Non-Violence.  The reason we remember him today in our nation is rooted in these principles, which were not merely written about in a book or spoken in a sermon.  He put them into practice and led others to do so.   It's worth noting that many if not most of the movements on the left and the right today are not embracing these principles in practice, and often not even in word.   This is to say that many "non-violent" demonstrations are actually quite violent.   Just because nobody gets physically harmed, it does not mean an event was "non-violent."

What do you think?

SIX PRINCIPLES OF NONVIOLENCE:   Fundamental tenets of Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence described in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom. The six principles include:

  1. PRINCIPLE ONE: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.  It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.  It is assertive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.  It is always persuading the opponent of the justice of your cause.

  2. PRINCIPLE TWO: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.  The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.   The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.                                                                                         

  3. PRINCIPLE THREE: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people.  Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people.   The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil not people.

  4. PRINCIPLE FOUR: Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.  Nonviolence willingly accepts the consequences of its acts.  Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation.   Nonviolence accepts violence if necessary, but will never inflict it.    Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.   Suffering can have the power to convert the enemy when reason fails.

  5. PRINCIPLE FIVE: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.  Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body.  Nonviolent love gives willingly, knowing that the return might be hostility.  Nonviolent love is active, not passive.  Nonviolent love does not sink to the level of the hater.  Love for the enemy is how we demonstrate love for ourselves.  Love restores community and resists injustice.  Nonviolence recognizes the fact that all life is interrelated.

  6. PRINCIPLE SIX: Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.  The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.  Non-violence believes that God is a God of justice.