the vivid life

Martin Luther King Jr. chose to love


Since the dawn of time, good has been combated by evil. Martin Luther King Jr. fought hate with love by being an optimist, a visionary, someone who wouldn’t back down. He changed our world for the better, and the lessons he taught are timeless.

Choosing to love instead of hate isn’t easy sometimes but it is the better road for your own journey. Hate hurts everyone, but most of all, it hurts you. Are you carrying around feelings of animosity and hatred? It doesn’t feel very good, does it? Justified or not, I have found it takes more energy to stay mad. And I mean the soul-stirring, anxiety-producing agitated state of mind that pure hatred causes, not the fists-in-the-air-we-won’t-take-this-oppression-anymore anger. I think that kind of passion can be good. But the festering in a dark place of madness doesn’t do anyone any good.

Anger isn’t all bad, of course. It incites change and action. Anger also can deliver you to a new sense of awareness. “Anger serves a variety of positive purposes when it comes to coping with stress,” writes W. Doyle Gentry, PhD from Anger Management For Dummies. “It energizes you, improves your communication with other people, promotes your self-esteem, and defends you against fear and insecurity. (Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., were all angry men — but they turned that anger into social reform that made the world a better place.)”

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about compassion and forgiveness. Compassion is ultimately the opposite of anger. Breathing compassion toward your enemies is important, as it helps to release the anger you’re feeling. It helps you to step back from your emotionally charged actions and realize that we are all human. We’ve all been through the good, the bad, the beautiful and ugly parts of life, just in different ways.

Today on Tiny Buddha, the author quoted Mother Theresa, who once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

But focusing on depressing your anger for the sake of others might get you all jittery and mad again. So let’s think about what feeling love for people rather than being angry with them will do for you.

When you’re angry you are likely to have “blame thinking” going on in your head. Inside of “blame thinking” you have emotions and these are caused by unmet needs. When you can get conscious of your “blame statement” you can begin to explore your feelings and use these feelings to get clear about which of your needs are going unmet. Source: The Center for Nonviolent Communication

Love makes us feel happy. We see the world as a better place, and we feel like we belong in it and we want to do more for it and the people around us.

There is relief and release in choosing love, too. Martin Luther King Jr. demanded love and compassion while fighting for equality and rights. He did this by speaking about love and not putting out more hatred into the world, but rather more compassion.

He didn’t just turn the other cheek. He fought hard. He worked hard. “You can’t be a doormat unless you lie down first,” wrote the recently departed Pauline Phillips in 1973 under the pen name Abigail Van Buren for her column, “Dear Abby.”

I bring this up because many people think that being loving, nonviolent and compassionate means letting people walk all over you. And that’s not at all what I am advocating, and neither did MLK.

Quite simply, I think the moral is to mindfully live your life with love in your heart, not hate, and you’ll have a deeper, richer life.

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  • Reply jelindsay January 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Love this post. Very well thought out and very passionate. We unfortunately have allowed our society to point fingers for too long. Rather than causing the change we’d hoped to see and uniting us, I think it’s done more to divide us. Thanks for sharing this incredible reminder that we choose to make a difference in our world, regardless of how others choose to treat us and themselves.

    • Reply kirsten January 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment! I agree completely with you, Jelindsay. Pointing fingers doesn’t really get us anywhere by instead just divides us all.

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