Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day in the United States. It is a holiday that commemorates Dr. King’s life and work. He lead a movement for racial justice and equality, and embraced nonviolent action as a powerful revolutionary force for social change. He employed Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence as the means to confront racist laws and discrimination in America. His work made a significant contribution to President Lyndon Johnson signing into law the historic Civil Rights Act, and he was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
Dr. King’s legacy continues to inspire us to live in accordance with our highest values of love, tolerance, and cooperation. There is still much more to be done to create a society in which human rights are equal independent of skin color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, economic status and religious affiliation. Coretta Scott King states in, The Meaning of the King Holiday, “We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America.”
Dr. King’s was deeply inspired by Gandhi’s success with nonviolent social change, and traveled to India to learn more about Gandhi’s teachings. While there, King in a radio address stated, ‘‘since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.” Gandhi understood nonviolence from its Sanskrit root “Ahimsa”, and he expanded the philosophy of nonviolence from the individual level to the societal level. His grandson, Arun Gandhi, shares in an interview; “He (Gandhi) said ahimsa means love. Because if you have love towards somebody, and you respect that person, then you are not going to do any harm to that person.”
The examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. point the way forward to heal the division and anger that are present on both sides of the political divide in this country. Judgment and animosity only serve to increase suffering, and do not offer solutions on how to move forward. Instead, as Martin Luther King, Jr., clearly expressed:
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
We can raise our voices for what we believe and stand for the principles of justice and love internally and externally. I am grateful for the blessing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership, and his demonstration of how change is possible even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. We can be the change we want to see in the world. It starts within and it starts with us.
**This posted is an edited version of post originally published 1/16/17.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their true nature. She is a psychotherapist, a transformative coach, and author of Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1). She has an international coaching practice helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, watch her Vlogs with her husband, Angus Ross, and subscribe to her weekly blog on her website, rohiniross.com. She has an upcoming program The Solopreneur Leap co-facilitated with Barb Patterson starting January 15th, 2018.