“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke these words from an Alabama pulpit in 1957.* “Love your enemies,” he said. It must have felt impossible to his parishioners, then, just as it does, now. How do we find light and love when the world feels like it’s getting meaner and more vile by the day?
MLK said we begin by looking at ourselves. We begin by acknowledging that none of us is without darkness. Then we look at our enemies, until we can see the good that exists within them, as it does within every single person, without fail, even the most angry, ugly and violent of us. We do this, partly, because it benefits us. Hate distorts us. It clouds our ability to see clearly. “For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. (T)he good becomes bad and the bad becomes good.”
We see evidence of this everywhere. Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, in every state in America, in our politics, in our cities and towns, on our streets and college campuses, in our media, in our own families. It’s clear that hate just makes more hate.
“Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that…by love.”
Let us try, even if we don’t succeed fully. None of our efforts will be wasted. Let us be people who have enough sense to try to stop the madness. And let us begin by calming our own inner chaos. Commit to doing what you can this day to cultivate a little more ease, a little more light, a little more love. In doing that we might remember that not one of us is beyond reproach and that even in the worst of us there is always something to be loved.
Find a point of stillness in the midst of the holiday hub-bub with my new Calm the Chaos series. Three gentle videos, chosen to inspire. A perfect gift for you or a loved one. Available through January 1st.