50 Years Later!
April 4, 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. Half a century!
For this occasion, many organizations, churches, political leaders and communities will organize special events and many public figures are already participating in this commemoration.
What is it that we commemorate? I can see at least three major achievements:
1. An extraordinary moment in American history, where people seeking justice for the poorest and the most vulnerable among us came together.
2. The power of nonviolence brought to this land by the charismatic words and deeds of Dr. King and his acolytes.
3. The persistence of a people who suffered from discrimination, oppression and violence and stood up for their rights.
In his pastoral letter dedicated to the life and legacy of Dr. King, Archbishop William Lori calls us to the ongoing pursuit of justice through nonviolence:
Not to be ignored are conditions that create despair and spawn violence in our neighborhoods: lack of education, unemployment, a dearth of decent and affordable housing, a proliferation of illegal weapons, drug abuse and gangs, the disintegration of the family, homelessness, and so much more.
These deep and systemic problems do violence to the dignity of real human beings created in the image and likeness of God. Even worse is the tendency on the parts of many who see continued decline as inevitable and who react to these harsh realities with indifference or jaded cynicism. In this stark environment, Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence are more necessary than ever: They are prophetic words of hope that can light the path forward.
All of us need to walk this path of nonviolent hope.
According to Archbishop Lori, reviving Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence is the way forward. We are facing violence in our communities, in our society and in our nation. In the current debate about gun control, violence is often met with more violence: more guns, more armed officers and security guards, more metal detectors, more trainings to learn how to shoot. We are living in a time when violence is spiraling and escalating and when the only response to violent acts is found in counter-violence.
Walking the “path of nonviolent hope” requires new tools and alternative ways of thinking. It takes time and patience and support from each other. Many among us have experienced violence in very real ways: the immigrant community threatened every day by denunciation and deportation; people of color who are often left out by our system and victims of attacks; the poor and the elderly who are losing health care and a social safety net. We all need to address those forms of violence.
JustFaith Ministries seeks to be part of the revival of Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence; for that purpose, we just released a new program that allows participants to learn more about nonviolence and develop strategies to practice it in their own communities and their own lives.
“Cultivating Nonviolence, Harvesting Peace” is an 8-week module that invites participants to enter the stories of those who address violence using nonviolent means and to align ourselves with those whose lives are dedicated to creating alternative structures and systems. At the same time, this module invites participants to a journey of faith, one that places the Christian vision of the reign of God — in all its manifestations — at the center of our concerns. St Francis’ prayer serves as a refrain throughout the process:
Lord, make me an instrument
of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
If you are interested in bringing this conversation and experiment to your community, visit us online. As Easter approaches, may we all meet on the path of hope!
The Staff at JustFaith Ministries