Letter to the Editor | Even after 58 years, MLK’s nonviolent, direct action still best

I have been reading my library of MLK and borrowing his books from the Peoria NAACP community center library. It has been some time since I did this, and as a Quaker who does not have the Baptist Christian faith, not everything resonates 100%.

But the powerful message of social love is a tonic much needed in this time of division and emphasis on hate. And so I offer this short piece of writing.

MLK was a strategic thinker as well as a spiritual one. In “Strength to Love,” written in 1963, he called upon us to be both hard headed and soft hearted. To cipher through false media and accept needed change that is fact based and rational. MLK argues we must simultaneously have an open heart to the opponent and offer our very best to everyone we engage with.

In his response to other ministers in Birmingham who suggested he was both uninvited and unwelcome during the bus boycott, King wrote “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” where he was held in solitary confinement.

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects us all indirectly,” he wrote.

“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

As we enter this new year it is my hope that the non-violent struggle will provide internal discipline over spontaneous response. The struggle for racial equality is obviously very far from over although signs of hope are everywhere. Together, with the wisdom of people like MLK, we will make a better world.

David Pittman

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