Tag Archives: Martin Luther King

What the World Needs Now is Love

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love;  it’s the only thing there is just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  No, not just for some, but for everyone….”      Diana Ross sang this top selling record in 1965  as the nation was deep in the quagmire of Vietnam and  the nation was being ripped apart by internal disagreements over the war and the Civil Rights Movement.   This was the decade that saw the assassinations of  John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. It was a turbulent decade.   It was a violent decade.   It was much like the decade of which we are now a part.

I think about death a lot these days.   It seems it is always lurking around the corner and ready to pounce on me when I least expect it.  But I do not fear it because I believe in a loving God who will receive me as a father receives his child—with open arms and unconditional love.  In the Parable of the Prodigal  Son Jesus  told of this kind of love and in the Sermon on the Mount he tells how we need to love others unconditionally in the same way the Father (God) loved the Prodigal Son.  In the Sermon he says:

“You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and  hate your enemy’, but I say to you ‘ Love your enemies  and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your father in Heaven.'”   (Matthew 5:43-44)

In a world torn by hatred and violence; divided by LGBT gender issues; fearful of each othere to mass shootings and listening to the prophets of hatred and gloom;  where the rich grow richer at the expense of the poor; where children go to bed hungry every night while surrounded by plenty; torn by differences in religion and race—-the solution of love is the only solution.

The word ‘love’ in English can have many definitions.   The Greek and Hebrew languages do a much better job in defining a more precise meaning.   The  Hebrew word ‘hesed’ is always used to express God’s unconditional love for his children.  In Greek there are several words we translate in English as love.  

In Greek, eros is the word for physical love and sexual love.   philos is the Greek for love of brother and sister— love for family members.  The Greek word  agape is translated “love”  and is the Greek word for unconditional love—love that loves with no expectation of return.  This is unconditional love-— the love that loves us  regardless of any return of love by us.   This is the way God loves us and the way we are told by Jesus to love our neighbor in the Great Commandment:   You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul,mind and strength; and your neighbor as yourself.    

What we need in this fractured and torn world today is LOVE.   UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.    We have tried the other ways—power  as military  and economic might;   hatred;   exclusion by building walls to shut others out; arming everyone to carry guns. How have they worked for us?   Not well!    The only solution we have not tried is  Unconditional Love.  Such Love put into action is a mighty force.    Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahtma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Dorothy Day, St. Francis of Assissi and Jesus all lived by this kind of love and were a mighty force for change in their time.  They practiced agape love to the best of their ability.   Although severely and hurtfully opposed by the forces of power, in some cases jailed, beaten, and finally for King and Ghandi assassination and death—their lives and work remain a testament that love in action is a mighty force to change a fractured and torn world toward a more just and peaceful world.

Love is important!  It is what the dangerous, hurting, hatred and strife-turned world needs.   Have you ever considered what would happen if the United States used even half of the billions and billions spent on maintaining our military might and developing the means to kill our enemies to show  our love to them ?   Never underestimate the power of love to change enemies to friends.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love;

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. 

What the world needs now is love, sweet love

No, not just for some, but for everyone!!

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A Different Way Than Violence and Death?

All of us are concerned about the rise of violence in our closely connected world.   No longer can we disconnect the United States from the violence across the world—-but even if we could, we would still have an extremely large amount of violence to deal with in our own country.

I’m not going to catalog all that is going on, as I know that you are aware of it.  Violence and death in the Middle East and Africa, especially  at the hands of ISIS and other extremists groups, that is now extending to attacks on the U.S. by our own citizens who have been trained by these groups.   The usual practice of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” has been extended to killing as many innocent people as possible in retribution for suspected wrongs or for not being the right religion.  Terrorism is a world-wide threat.

In our own country (the U.S.) there is increasing violence and death at each other’s hands.  We are a gun culture and guns, due to the political influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association) are proliferating at an alarming rate.   Kansas, for example just passed a law allowing open carry and also concealed carry without any training and guns are  allowed in most public buildings and  everywhere not posted.

We live in a country where civilian paramilitary groups with a paranoid fear of the federal government are stockpiling rations and weapons because they fear, rightly or wrongly, that their own government is going to attack them.  Most of us live in an urban environment where life is increasingly cheap—there are shootings almost every day in Wichita, KS where I live.   People do not trust law enforcement and law enforcement does not trust people and the result is that people get shot by police and then riots occur over the shootings and more lives are lost.   Drunken arguments that used to be solved by fist-fights too often are now solved by the use of a gun.

People have tried for centuries to bring about peace by the sword, by the gun, by the missile, and by the threat of nuclear bombs—-and still there is no peace.   When will we learn that peace that is enforced by armed might  is not peace?  Force always involves fear and retribution and thus does not last.

There is an alternate way to peace that we have seldom tried.   It is the way that a person called Jesus of Nazareth taught and lived over 2000 years ago.   It is a peace not kept by the power of armed might  and violence,  but based on the power of  love and non-violence that Jesus taught and lived.   Somehow most of the Western world, while calling themselves his followers,  have missed his main message of peace.

A few have glimpsed the power of this way of non-violence and love.   Mahatma Ghandi was one—-Martin Luther King was another.   Both achieved their aims by this method and not by armed might.   Both, I might add, like Jesus, were  resisted by the domination systems of their day, and were killed eventually by those who felt threatened by them.   But both secured a lasting change for the better for millions of people by using the power of love and non-violence.

When are we going to stop killing each other and try this way of love and non-violence?    This is the only way to true peace.    We have yet to try it in our relationship with others, and on a national or international scale.

Live As Brothers or Perish as Fools

 

As we prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day next Monday, I would like to share some words of his that we might ponder:

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change.   Every society has its protectors of the status auo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions.   But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face  the challenge of change.   The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world into a world-wide brotherhood.   Together we must learn to live like brothers or together we will perish as fools.”

The need for this has not changed since Dr. King departed this life but has grown even stronger as we live in a global society.   Are you listening U. S Congress and Senate?   Are you listening, Mr. President?   Are you listening Kansas state legislators?  Are you listening Gov. Brownback?   Or are you going to lead us to perish as fools?

Learn to live like brothers, or perish as fools!

Putting King’s words in a different way is this story, author unknown that was published in “Morning Story and Dilbert”.

The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance in black and bitter cold.   Each one possessed a stick of wood, or so the story’s told.  Their dying fire in need of logs, the first woman held hers back for on the faces around the fire, she noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way saw one not of his church, and couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.

The third man sat in tattered clothes, he gave his coat a hitch.  Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought of the wealth, he had in store.  And how to keep what he had earned from these lazy poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from his sight, for all he saw in his  stick of wood was a chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group did naught except for gain.   Giving only to those who gave as how he played the game.   The logs held tight in death’s still hands was proof of human sin.   They didn’t die from the cold without, they died from the cold within.