Vignette Two of Four
THE LEADERSHIP OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. IS PROFOUND…
… I say “is” because his example and leadership remains active today, 50 years after his 1968 assassination. Dr. King demonstrated a deep inner strength (that was beyond human capacity), and did a remarkable work of empowering others of color to stand strong in the face of very real oppression. What is so profound about Dr. King’s leadership here though, is that it empowers others with the strength to Love. He not only led people against an external system of oppression in our society, but he also led them against an internal loss of themselves to hatred and bitterness, which justifies itself in that external oppression. This is the essence of that deep inner strength, that it stands against oppression, yes, but that it stands against that oppression for Love’s sake (which alone holds the power to redeem the oppressor). As such, Dr. King led not only people of color who were under oppression, but also white persons aligned with that system of oppression, away from the darkness of division, hatred, and dominance and to a redemptive Love that is restorative to our relationships. For a glimpse into the philosophy of Dr. King’s leadership, take a look at his tenants of non-violent resistance below, which are outlined in King’s Stride Towards Freedom (1958).
“First, it must be emphasized that nonviolence resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent…. [nonviolence] “is ultimately the way of the strong man” (p. 90).
“A second basic fact that characterizes nonviolence is that it 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” (p. 90 - 91).
“A third characteristic of this method is that the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil. It is evil that the nonviolent resister seeks to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil. If he is opposing racial injustice, the nonviolent resister has the vision to see that the basic tension is not between races…. We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust” (p. 91).
“A forth point that characterizes nonviolent resistance is a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back….What is the nonviolent resister’s justification for [this]?... The answer is found in the realization that unearned suffering is redemptive” (p. 91).
“A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe” (p. 92).
“A sixth basic fact about nonviolent resistance is that it is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. Consequently, the believer in nonviolence has deep faith in the future….For he knows that in his struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship….there is a creative force in this universe that works to bring the disconnected aspects of reality into a harmonious whole” (p. 95).
Each remaining week of 2018, we will be presenting a short vignette which illuminates the importance and impact of servant leadership. We hope these reflections are gifts that display the potential of great leadership.
We would also like to invite you to give the gift of servant leadership throughout the end of this year. A great way to do this is by partnering with us here at AML. It will help us meet our year end financial goals- goals which allow us to most effectively strive towards our mission.