MLK, Jr.: “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” {Updated}

Via Waylon Lewis
on May 2, 2011
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…and Why we shouldn’t, either.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Update: the above quote has been declared a fake. The sentiment, however, has inspired millions. We’ll call it a draw. ~ ed.

Update: the quote above, minus the first line, is real. I’ve enlarged the real quote. The two sections were conflated courtesy a million facebook wall posts.

Why we may not want to celebrate killing of Osama.

We Americans must all remember: when we pray for revenge, or war, or victory, we inadvertently pray for other things, too.

While our celebrations in America, last night, have been joyous, and bipartisan, and have not vilified Muslims (thank God), there is still the shadow of an uncomfortable visual parallel to those images that fill us with so much fear and hate: young men in Iran, etc., celebrating by burning our flag, chanting Death to America.

Death is not sport.

And so while I’m grateful Osama is gone—his absence gives me hope for peace, for safety of innocents civilians—I do not know that we should indulge in the satisfaction of sated hatred.

That said…

“I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” – Mark Twain


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


18 Responses to “MLK, Jr.: “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” {Updated}”

  1. DLeB says:

    This is exactly what I was feeling last night. While I completely understand that people would want resolution and justice for those killed in September 11th, 2011 I couldn't escape the feeling that 2 wrongs were not going to make a right here. Murder begets murder, evil begets evil and I've always thought there is no better revenge than a life well lived versus a life taken. It seems a mass need has been answered by this act so I hope it brings the fruit that everyone wants.

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Dr. King Was a light unto the world. We need more inspirational leaders fighting for peace, love, and equality for all human beings. We should not rejoice in the brutal murder of another human being and his family, regardless of circumstanc…e. My heart goes out to all that have been lost; In America, In Afghanistan, in Pakistan, and all over the world who suffered at the hands of brutal and senseless violence. May we all strive to live together in a peaceful world. Dr. King's Dream became a reality through the tireless efforts of the people that shared in his vision.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Kimberly Ann Johnson Prov 24.17, "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice"; Ezek 18.32, "I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord"; Ezek 33.11, "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked."

  4. Win says:

    This quote, while timely, is only partially MLK:

  5. jen says:

    Thank you for posting this! I think it is so strange that people are actualy out PARTYING like it is new years eve or something. Obviously he was not a good guy, but the death of any living thing is sad. I am praying for all of the families of 9/11, but also for Osama's family.

  6. Melanie says:

    Perhaps the first sentence was used in a speech of MLK. It can exist outside of the book you refer to. And, in the big picture – it doesn't matter. It is a good opening line and in the style of MLK.

  7. Mari Garland says:

    These verses reflect how I feel. Some relief, some sadness – not celebration. Intellectual resolve, pride that our country had the determination to see this through. Hopeful that others will think twice before they attack America or any other nation in such a way. Sadness for the many martyrs who agree with the al Quaida and Taliban causes and are willing to kill others and themselves over such beliefs.

  8. Sharon says:

    So glad I found this. I was thinking that there was something wrong with me that I wasn't thinking "ding dong the witch is dead" along with everyone else. Glad to know that there is basis and others that feel similarly.

  9. […] peoples around the world rejoice in vengeance– in the death of a human being who committed incomprehensible acts of terror — two women demonstrate that something else is […]

  10. derek says:

    First, the Mark Twain quote you posted was bogus as well. It was actually said by Clarence Darrow. Integrity is a yogic value as well.

    Second, I think you need to re-think why people were so happy to hear the news about bin Laden. I think it had little to do with hatred, or dancing on the man's grave… people were taking satisfaction knowing that a mass-murderer of nearly 3,000 lives wasn't going to get away with it.

    A very facile analysis…

  11. Sean says:

    The commentaries, postings, and comments that there was all this rejoicing has been completely overblown. A tiny tiny fraction of the US population took to the streets and celebrated(and most of them were young people who were like 10 years old when 9/11 happened). Just because the media showed it doesnt mean that that is the overall sentiment.

  12. Jay Buchanan says:

    Waylon. You are cool. Nuff said.

  13. Christine Z says:

    I agree. Love is the answer. And I ask, where does all the hate come from. It comes from our ego's who have to right. And will do anything to make a story right. And will fill in the blanks. Our egos lives depend on it. Food for thought

  14. JimWilton says:

    The misquote of MLK was a mistake that went viral. A 23 year old English teacher in Japan wrote the first sentence in her blog and then immediately quoted MLK (the quote beginning with "Returning hate . . . " is from from a 1957 MLK sermon). She used quotation marks for the MLK quote and attributed it to MLK.

    Then somebody cut and pasted her remark along with the MLK quote and ended up dropping the quotation marks so that it read as if the whole thing was a quote from MLK. Then, to make matters worse, somebody sent the quote by Twitter and because of the word limit dropped all of the real quote and kept only the erroneous first sentence and the attribution to MLK.

  15. […] Jessica Dovey, a Penn State graduate student, had tweeted the quote with some musings of her own as well. […]