there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. one of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. but oh this isn’t the way. violence creates many more social problems than it solves. another way is to acquiesce and to give in, to resign yourself to the oppression. but that too isn’t the way, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.
but there is another way. and that is to organize mass non violent resistance based on the principle of love. where there is something about hate that tears down and is destructive, there is something about love that builds up and is creative. love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.
when you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system. you just keep loving people, even though they’re mistreating you. just keep being friendly to that person. i’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love, somewhere men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed.
edited from a november 17, 1957 sermon by dr. martin luther king, jr. photos by: 1. marc riboud of jan rose kasmir at the pentagon, october 21, 1967; 2. lefteris pitarakis in cairo, january 28, 2011; 3. guillermo legaria in bogota, october 26, 2011; 4. sergei chuzavkov in kiev, december 30, 2013; 5. william fernando martinez in bogotá, november 11, 2011; 6. reuters, kiev, november, 2004; 7. stefan stefanov in sofia, bulgaria, november, 2013; 8. john vizcaino in bogotá, november 11, 2011; and 9. hadi mizban in baghdad, january 6, 2008