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The Ethics of Love

1/12/2018

The Principle of Love

Just hours after the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017, a group of Christian leaders called on religious leaders of all denominations to sign a letter endorsing the nonviolent approach advocated by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From left: Rev. William Bass; Rev. Eugene Rivers, III, founder and director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies in Boston; Bishop Edwin Bass, president of the Church of God in Christ Urban Initiatives; Jesuit Bishop George Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; and Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

Today, as the nation seeks a path through divisions, the need to rediscover the moral message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is vital.

Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolent protest was a principled response to the verifiable injustices and inequality faced by minorities, and continues to hold relevance today. His 1957 essay, “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” outlined the path for a love-based, nonviolent resistance.

“At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love,” Dr. King wrote in the essay. “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.”

In a Time magazine op-ed, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and Pentecostal minister Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III said if Dr. King were here today, he would have explicitly condemned all the forms of violent protest in modern society.

“The better path, the only path to our salvation as a country,” they wrote, “was made clear by Rev. King in 1967: ‘The beauty of nonviolence is that in its own way and in its own time it seeks to break the chain reaction of evil.’ We can again break that chain reaction, and the prescription is the same one given by Rev. King. Now as then, religious leaders have taken the first step. For their own sake — and that of future generations — the rest of the country should do so as well.”

Rev. Rivers is an American activist and the founder and president of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies. Supreme Knight Anderson is a former member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Read the entire op-ed here.