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I really enjoyed your thoughtful post. Forgive the following; I haven't slept for two days and I worry that I am unable to adequately or eloquently express my thoughts. Nevertheless, there's power in the moment, and like all things on the internet, the time and relevance of this post will soon be past.. So I should reply now, and sleep later. I agree with many of your observations, but in order to understand the power of Dr. King's words we can't limit the concept of hate to an illogical, driving force. Likewise, the love he spoke of is not a cowardly, simpering, sentimental thing but a stubborn refusal to move when you are in the way of injustice, among many other things. The love he speaks of goes hand in hand with the idea of political action. Silence and inaction are just as bad as "hate," so love must mean standing up for what we think is right. It means standing up, getting in the way, being loud, refusing to comply with or tacitly allow the status quo to continue. People like Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden are given power because many people go along with it. If enough people had spoken up against Hitler from the beginning, he would have had no opportunity to advance his conflict. So regardless of political agenda, wars are allowed to be fought because we allow them to be fought, if you'll forgive the redundancy. I do not believe that any population on earth is predisposed to agree with ideas like Hitler's or bin Laden's. Whether or not the political motivations are rational is irrelevant. Unjust objectives are unsustainable, and rational, just objectives require a positive force in order to create meaningful change. The advantages of violence are temporal and do not solve underlying problems: killing Osama bin Ladin is a self-satisfying act of revenge. We may have stopped one force of incredible, awful pain and violence, but in doing so with the means we used, we have fanned the fires of hate in many, many others. If killing one violent man results in the creation of ten other violent men, was it worth it? What is our political motivation as a nation? To advance the concept of freedom? To end terrorism? We have to attack the ideas of the man, not the man himself. A man can be stopped without being killed. We have to examine the structure and underlying forces which create "hate," and seek to destroy those instead. Part of this means seeking to understand the enemies as human beings (and, by the way, as something other than enemies). If there is something in our culture which is so offensive as to incite acts of terrorism, could it hurt to reflect upon ourselves? I think it might be more meaningful if every person believed that the change has to begin within themselves. Another Dr. King quote, this time from Beyond Vietnam, 1967, "Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition." Please, continue to debate this issue, and don't stop there. If you disagree, say so, and explain.
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May 4, 2011