"I have decided to stick with love…Hate is too great a burden to bear."
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- Where Do We Go From Here, 1967.
Reflection on the quotation by a King Center staff member:
Hate built up over time can and will become toxic. Toxicity over time can and will erode the vessel that it is in and over time, that vessel will disintegrate and itself become one with the toxicity. Interestingly enough, we can rid ourselves of the toxicity of hate, but only if we are willing to do so.
Yes, it is true, we are not always treated fairly, we are not always treated with respect, in fact, we may have been mistreated, sometimes by the people whom we least expect, even by the very ones who are closest to us and are supposed to love us. As a result, we may feel justified in holding grudges, disliking…a lot, even hating; however, in doing so we are ultimately harming ourselves because this will become a cancer and in holding on to it we allow it to grow and fester, and ultimately it changes who we are. We then become full of anger and hate…just like the very person who we felt had wronged us. Their behavior is not okay, but ultimately their behavior is their responsibility and they would eventually have to face the consequences of it. It is okay to speak up when you are being mistreated, after all, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”(Stride Toward Freedom, 1958)
How can we do this?...By sticking to love. The Bible says in Matthew 5:44 that we should love our enemies. We should bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. We must learn to forgive. To love is to forgive and love is the most precious gift given to us. As Dr. King has so eloquently stated, “we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love…Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt…” He went on to say, “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” (Loving your Enemies – Sermon - Christmas, 1957, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church)
This can present itself a challenge to all, even the very best of us, but we must set our hearts right in order to set ourselves free to love; then and only then can we embrace the mission and become a part of creating that Beloved Community. Not if, but when we feel the burden of hate weighing heavily upon our heart, we can choose to stick to love by inviting that place within us where God dwells to take over. We do recognize that God is love.
Let us all do a little soul searching today; if you find any sense of hate, lingering in the corners of your mind, and we know that it can disguise itself quite well, shine the light of love on it and watch it disappear. After all, darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. Hate can only exist in the darkness and where there is a sense of separation from God, who is the Light.
Although you cannot make anyone love you, they cannot make you hate them. It is a conscious decision and we have the knowledge, freedom and willpower to make that choice. Yes, I, too, have decided to stick with love…How about you???
-- A King Center Staff member