“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today marks the forty fifth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was many things, and I could speak at length about his vision of equality, about the parallels between the grand struggle he helped to lead and inspire and the struggles of so many around the globe today. But the vast scope of such a discusssion bears too much potential for distancing oneself from the reality, too much potential for a beautiful vision to become merely a rhetorical exercise or an analytical construct. Too much potential for apathy and dispair.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality." This belief however, is one that we can bring into our lives on a daily basis. It speaks to an approach to life that asks to be affirmed and re-affirmed on a moment to moment basis. MLK led by example. To embody his teachings is one of the highest honors we can pay him. To ourselves lead by example in our daily interactions is to "be the change you wish to see in the world," (itself a teaching from Ghandi, who was one of MLK's own inspirations).
How can we walk into the world rooted in unarmed truth and practicing unconditional love? How can we face hate with pure and honest love? How can we hold the pain of others, pain that breeds hate, with compassion?
It has to begin at home. It begins with you. It begins with me. I know I become defensive when I hear truths about myself or see my actions reflected back to me in a way that shows how I am not living my from highest self. When I become defensive, I am arming myself. Perhaps I even go on the offensive, attacking my family or my husband with words and jabs at their percieved flaws. This is a natural reaction. It is easy to spiral into this pattern, begining a blame game against myself and my loved ones in order to blind myself to the entirety of my truth. This is inherently violent, it cuts at me and it cuts at my loved ones. So how can I disarm? I remember to practice unconditional love. By holding myself in compassion, I honor my own reactions and recognize that they come from a place of pain. I breathe deeply, and know that as I inhale, I inhale love. As I exhale I exhale peace. By inhaling love, I soothe and heal the hurt parts of myself. And so as I exhale, I am engaging with the world from a place of compassion rather than pain. When I practice this with myself, I am more able to practice it with others. I realize that I do not need to force my truths upon others, arming them to take over the minds and hearts of all who come. All I need to to do is meet the world- hurt and healing, sorrowful and joyous - with unconditional love. All I need to do is breathe and walk and speak from a place of compassion.
This practice is so perfectly simple, and one of the hardest things I've ever done. When I am defeated in my intention of living from a place of compassion, from living in unarmed truth and unconditional love, I react humanly, from a place of pain or of fear. But with each breath I can choose again. And again. So many fresh starts in each day. One for each breath.
"This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant," (as proved by every quest fantasy novel, ever).