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. 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 martin luther king, jr. photos by: 1. marc riboud 2. lefteris pitarakis 3. guillermo legaria 4. sergei chuzavkov 5. william fernando martinez 6. reuters 7. stefan stefanov 8. john vizcaino. (click pic for place and date)