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November 11, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Advice for the Disharmony in America.

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“I wonder if Dr. King was with us today, what would he say…” ~ Bernie Sanders

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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King Jr. was no stranger to controversy, turbulence and difficulties. He was a man who was willing to lay down his life to stand for humanity, and one who was prepared to nonviolently confront anything that threatened the good of mankind.

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method, which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

Reading through many of the words left behind by Martin Luther King Jr, I have found profound wisdom, strength and guidance that has helped me to remain rational, calm and centered—and also determined to refuse to allow my concern for the world to be silenced.

However, as Martin Luther King explains, there are ways to express ourselves, and when we are in denial or in a deep state of grief, we are often far too emotionally charged to be able to see the present and the future clearly.

Currently, it feels as though America has been painfully fractured and is feeling disenfranchised and fragmented.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Although millions are disappointed, giving up is not an option. Becoming angry and resentful leaves us powerless, as our energy is tied up in fighting what we fear or what we don’t want, rather than directing it towards what we can now restructure and build.

We should never forget that when we stand together and find unity, we have infinite power and the ability to change the world for the better. This is not an exaggeration or an ideological manner of thinking.

There are countless people all over this world working hard individually or collectively to make a difference, and if we really care about the future of our world—for ourselves and our children—we can each get involved in one small cause to make our societies, near and far, better places to live. We can feel angry at the state of the world ,or we can all dedicate just one hour a week to a project that is close to our hearts, something that changes a small part of the world.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Although the U.S. is a democracy, many are voicing that they haven’t felt heard, particularly as the candidacy was won on “electoral college” votes, not on the popular vote. Trump himself declared the electoral college votes a “sham and a travesty” after Obama won the election based on these votes.

In a series of Twitter posts, Trump made his opinion known by tweeting, “Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice!” Before adding, “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”

When the president-elect can see that there is injustice, it is very easy to see how tens of millions of people are also feeling this too.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

I believe one cause for the turbulence we are seeing is that no one really knows the entirety of what causes one person to vote one way or another—or even to not vote at all, as almost half of Americans never placed a vote.

According to the latest figures 231,556,622 people did not turn up to vote on election day.

We are each so inherently unique, with a lifetime of conditioning and experiences unlike anyone else’s. This results in us resonating with or repelling information based on what we already believe and feel to be authentic and true for us personally.

Cognitive bias means we are more likely to accept information that reinforces our existing beliefs. If the Hilary Clinton’s rhetoric in the media aligns with ours, we are more likely to support her, and likewise with Trump.

Therefore, our choices will usually feel like the “right” ones, and it can be difficult to see how others choose in contrast. It can also be difficult to rationally communicate when people have such opposing opinions, particularly when the future of a country is at stake.

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

I have seen discordance on social media of family members and friends falling out. I have read reports of protests turning violent, and the police are investigating a wave of hate crimes across the U.S. which occured following the election result.

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

I have witnessed many people voicing their opinions and being on the receiving end of personal insults, damning criticism and condemnation. There are others who have privately said they feel afraid to speak out publicly, as their beliefs and opinions don’t coincide with the ones of the people around them.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

When we are faced with harsh words, anger, frustration, insults and bitterness, we can become so entrenched within these emotions that we may start to reenact them too. We can choose to hit back with hurtful, reactive comments or we can choose peace, compassion and forgiveness so that we do not become the same shade of the darkness we are witnessing.

“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. 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.”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”

Ultimately, it is only love that will pull us all through. Hate anchors us down and holds us back. It separates humanity further, and the divides then become so great that it can become almost impossible to rebuild any damaged bridges.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, 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.”

One thing is for sure, we can’t turn back time or stay where we are—and while many are declaring that they refuse to accept that Trump will ever be their president, the most effective thing we can do is to reclaim our composure, steady ourselves, look out for one another, and move forward.

We are powerful when we individually stand up for what we believe in, and this collectively makes a difference.

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

One man may be president, but he does not hold all the power in the world—the people within it do. And they do this by standing together, not apart. We can peacefully fight every injustice and as Martin Luther King Jr. proved time and again, protest and revolution is most effective and transformational when it is done with love in our hearts, not when the mind is fueled with hate.

“The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.”

Let “together” be the place in which we stand.

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism.”

 

~

Author: Alex Myles

Image: Instagram @npcapics

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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