Strength To Love

Martin Luther King Jr. with Nathan M. Pusey (left), Harvard’s 24th president, and the Rev. Charles P. Price on the steps of Appleton Chapel. Photo courtesy of the Harvard University Archives.

Editor’s Note:  The following are quotes from Strength To Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

“One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.”

“Courage faces fear and thereby masters it.”

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies– or else? The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

“On the parable of the Good Samaritan: “I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

“What is more tragic than to see a person who has risen to the disciplined heights of tough-mindedness but has at the same time sunk to the passionless depths of hard-heartedness?”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”

“Third, we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding. At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat. But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill that have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life.”

2 Comments on "Strength To Love"

  1. Dr. King had a presence and gravitas and delivery that drove home both the profundity and the truth of his words — words that are every bit as relevant now as they were in his lifetime. Thanks for the post.

  2. Would Dr. King, in the spirit of Christian charity, have had the “strength” to understand, forgive, and love the man who assassinated him?
    I hope not!

    If you are able to ask him, then the answer is probably yes. – JB

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