Resisting Racism and Other Injustices the Jesus Way

A older white guy wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat asked my friend the other day, “Were you one of the NIGGERS rioting in Oakland last night?”

Troubling times. Very troubling. Solutions anyone?

selmaMartin Luther King Junior offered his own solution to troubling times called, “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” which was printed in the Christian Century in February, 1957. The entire article is one of the greatest ever written on the subject of how a Christian or any morally anchored human resists evil. Part way through he defined “nonviolent resistance” in five precise points. I quote only the points and some of his explanations (without commentary from me). Read the rest of his article here.

First, this is not a method for cowards; it does resist…

The nonviolent resister is just as strongly opposed to the evil against which he protests as is the person who uses violence… This method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually; it is nonaggressive physically but dynamically aggressive spiritually.

A second point is that nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding…

The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.

A third characteristic of this method is that the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who are caught in those forces…

It is evil we are seeking to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil.

A fourth point that must be brought out concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit…

At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. In struggling for human dignity the oppressed people of the world must not allow themselves to become bitter or indulge in hate campaigns. To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can be done only by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.

Five, the method of nonviolence is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice…

This belief that God is on the side of truth and justice comes down to us from the long tradition of our Christian faith. There is something at the very center of our faith which reminds us that Good Friday may reign for a day, but ultimately it must give way to the triumphant beat of the Easter drums. Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but one day that same Christ will rise up and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name.

This, in brief, is the method of nonviolent resistance. It is a method that challenges all people struggling for justice and freedom. God grant that we wage the struggle with dignity and discipline. May all who suffer oppression in this world reject the self-defeating method of retaliatory violence and choose the method that seeks to redeem. Through using this method wisely and courageously we will emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright daybreak of freedom and justice.

God, have mercy on us all!

The Other End of the Dark now out on Amazon. Profits go to Freedom House.

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