Monday, January 19, 2009


From the foreword, written by Coretta Scott King, to Martin Luther King's classic collection of sermons:

"If there is one book Martin Luther King, Jr. has written that people consistently tell me has changed their lives, it is STRENGTH TO LOVE. I believe it is because this book best explains the central element of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy of nonviolence: His belief in a divine, loving presence that binds all life. This belief was the force behind all of my husband's quests to eliminate social evil . . . . By reaching into and beyond ourselves and tapping the transcendent moral ethic of love, we shall overcome these evils. Love, truth, and the courage to do what is right should be our own guideposts on this lifelong journey. Martin Luther King, Jr. showed us the way; he showed us the Dream -- and we responded with full hearts. Martin was an optimist. I am too, I do believe that one day our strength to love shall bring the Dream to fruition and the Beloved Community to earth."

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

"For nonviolence, as Gandhi insisted, was not the ‘weapon of the weak’; on the contrary, it is the strongest form of human power and it takes the bravest and strongest to wield it." (Michael N. Nagler)

Ram Dass interviewing Thich Nhat Hanh:

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.
(Thich Nhat Hanh, from "Please Call Me By My True Names")

"The stroke caused me to lose faith, and it was a cold, cold place, and I suddenly realized it was fierce grace.. that turned my life around."
(Ram Dass)

This year, Martin Luther King Day is the same day as Janis Joplin's birthday. If she were still alive, she would be 66 years old today. I don't know in what context she said this, but it seems to fit right in:

“It's gonna be a long hard drag, but we'll make it.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967, the year before Martin Luther King, Jr. died. On Martin Luther King Day 2009, let me not not forget that I am the twelve-year-old girl and I am the pirate. Let me not forget the fierce grace of which Ram Dass spoke. Let me not forget Janis Joplin's words. Let me not forget the difficult truth --
that it takes strength to love.

("Woman with Blue Hair," drawn in chalk pastel by am in the early 1980's)


R.L. Bourges said...

great video, thanks.

robin andrea said...

Beautiful compilation of quotes and videos. Much to think about and to rejoice.

Dale said...