Have we learned the lessons of non-violence from Martin Luther King Jr?

George Conklin

Here in Washington as we reflect on Martin Luther King’s legacy, and prepare for Inauguration Day and the Women’s March, we will continue to be inspired by his words, his contribution, and the actions taken every day in the name of non-violence.

16 January is a day to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, and to reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation.

This year, however, it is more important than ever not only to honor King’s memory and wisdom but also to put his words to practice, to be inspired by his values of non-violence, and take actions towards becoming the inclusive community he once dreamed of.

King always preached nonviolence in the face of adversity. He famously stated, “At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.”

If King were here today, he’d be spreading this same message of nonviolence. He would encourage us to stand up against hatred and intolerance through peaceful means. He would be concerned with the growing levels of violence that have swept across our nation, and would reassure the community that nonviolent resistance is the best way to solve these problems.

“In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”

Whilst media headlines focus on acts of violence, we should remember that we as a community are powerful enough to change these headlines to messages of peace.

As King said: “Non-violence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for [humankind] to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Image: InSapphoWeTrust

 

On January 21, the day after president-elect Trump’s inauguration, women will march on D.C. to protect their rights, safety, health and families with the recognition that diverse communities are at the strength of our country.

They march to stand up to the divisive rhetoric that has plagued this past election cycle and work to go past unhelpful stereotypes that do more to divide than to bring us together

This coming together to peacefully represent all these different and intersecting identities of our culture is one sign that King’s message has been kept alive over the years. It is proof that there are people out there who will support advocacy and movements they believe in. It is powerful confirmation that non-violence brings results, and that local peacebuilding is something we may need more of in the months ahead.

People face adversity every day around the world. So many of them refuse to use violence as a method of solving problems. So many of them have made it their mission to campaign for peace, even in the most difficult circumstances. So many take a daunting situation, and give it new hope through their practical steps to build peace.

According to a report by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, research shows that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns. 

Non-violent movements not only achieve their desired results nearly twice as often as violent ones, they also do so in less time and with longer-term effects.

Here in Washington as we reflect on Martin Luther King’s legacy, and prepare for Inauguration Day and the Women’s March, we will continue to be inspired by his words, his contribution, and the actions taken every day in the name of non-violence.

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