Finding Forgiveness

  
Via:  Jasper2529  •  4 months ago  •  10 comments

By:   Dr. Eileen R. Borris- Dunchunstang

Finding Forgiveness
On this very special MLK day I came across this sermon. It is a sermon delivered by Martin Luther King at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on Christmas of 1957. It deals with the question of how do we learn to love our enemies. For King the answer lies in forgiveness. In celebration of Martin Luther King day I wanted to share his inspiring words.

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We the People

This is another inspirational message from Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Martin Luther King on forgiveness



"First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one's enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us. It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer may request forgiveness. He may come to himself, and, like the prodigal son, move up some dusty road, his heart palpitating with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbor, the loving father back home, can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness.




"Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words 'I will forgive you, but I'll never forget what you've done' never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, 'I will forgive you, but I won't have anything further to do with you.' Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can love his enemies

"The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.

"Second, we must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy-neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy. Each of us has something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves. A persistent civil war rages within all of our lives. Something within us causes us to lament with Ovid, the Latin poet, 'I see and approve the better things, but follow worse,' or to agree with Plato that human personality is like a charioteer having two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in a different direction, or to repeat with the Apostle Paul, 'The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.'

"This simply means that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. When we look beneath the surface, beneath. the impulsive evil deed, we see within our enemy-neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God's image is ineffably etched in being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the reach of God's redemptive love.

"Third, we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding. At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat. But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.

"Let us move now from the practical how to the theoretical why: Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multi# plies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

"So when Jesus says 'Love your enemies,' he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies-or else? The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

"Another reason why we must love our enemies is that hate scars the soul and distorts the personality. Mindful that hate is an evil and dangerous force, we too often think of what it does to the person hated. This is understandable, for hate brings irreparable damage to its victims. We have seen its ugly consequences in the ignominious deaths brought to six million Jews by hate-obsessed madman named Hitler, in the unspeakable violence inflicted upon Negroes by bloodthirsty mobs, in the dark horrors of war, and in the terrible indignities and injustices perpetrated against millions of God's children by unconscionable oppressors.

"But there is another side which we must never overlook. Hate is just as injurious to the person who hates. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

"A third reason why we should love our enemies is that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.

"The relevance of what I have said to the crisis in race relations should be readily apparent. There will be no permanent solution to the, race problem until oppressed men develop the capacity to love their enemies. The darkness of racial injustice will be dispelled only by the light of forgiving love. For more than three centuries American Negroes have been battered by the iron rod of oppression, frustrated by day and bewildered by night by unbearable injustice and burdened with the ugly weight of discrimination. Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and to retaliate with a corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.

"My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way.
"While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.

"To our most bitter opponents we say: 'We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.'"


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Jasper2529
PhD Participates
1  seeder  Jasper2529    4 months ago
Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. 
 
 
 
Jasper2529
PhD Participates
2  seeder  Jasper2529    4 months ago
Third, we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding. At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat. But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.
 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Principal
2.1  Krishna  replied to  Jasper2529 @2    4 months ago

Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.

Years ago I was a big fan of Carol King. Often there are comments on social media sites that make remind of one of her songs:

Carole King - Beautiful

 
 
 
Jasper2529
PhD Participates
2.1.1  seeder  Jasper2529  replied to  Krishna @2.1    4 months ago

Thank you for commenting!

I, too, was a big fan of Carole King in my youth.

“Beautiful” is a simple message about loving one’s self and in turn, showing such affection for the world around you.

What are your thoughts about the topic of my seeded article ... Dr. Martin Luther King's sermon called "Finding Forgiveness"?

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
3  JBB    4 months ago

The righteousness of their cause was his armour.

This allowed Dr King to rise above his detractors...

He was a better man. That alone proved him right!

 
 
 
Jasper2529
PhD Participates
3.1  seeder  Jasper2529  replied to  JBB @3    4 months ago

Thank you for taking time to comment, JBB. 

What I especially liked about this sermon is that he didn't specifically dwell upon peacefully resolving racial issues (which is what most people remember about him) but on teaching us how to forgive each other. True forgiveness is possible, but it isn't easy to accomplish.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
4  CB     4 months ago

Paul McCartney & Wings ~ Blackbird (w/lyrics) 1976 [HQ]

For freedom (for all of us).

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
5  CB     4 months ago

"How I Got Over" by Mahalia Jackson, at MLK's Civil Rights Campaign (Washington, 1963)

NOTE: Thank you Jasper for providing this 'quickie' space for us. I got a late start on the idea. (Smile.)

Lord! I am going to sing and never get tired. ♪♫  -CB.

 
 
 
Jasper2529
PhD Participates
5.1  seeder  Jasper2529  replied to  CB @5    4 months ago

and 4   --

Many thanks for contributing music to this seed. Both songs are very meaningful regarding civil rights in general. But, I'd greatly enjoy reading what you think of the specific topic of MLK's sermon (forgiveness) that I seeded.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
6  CB     4 months ago

Jasper, I am finally able to collect my thoughts to respond. I was otherwise engaged in catch-up and long days around the MLK holiday. Plus, on the holiday, I arrived here to find the article locked. Thus, I begin a new one elsewhere.

We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.

Frankly, I am disturbed by this quote from the article. In the present, there is talk of manipulation of blacks' and other minorities' capacity for forgiveness solely as gain, while coarse and hard men and women are side-stepping national problems of division, inaction, and further abuse of individuals and groups.

As Dr. King stated, beyond platitudes, we must be ready to meet harsh realities of hatred, lack, and indecency, with correction when it arrives full and complete. Otherwise, the notion that merely propping oneself up for a knockdown or abusive 'relationship' can be a kind of masochism.

I agree with King. As I stand ready to love at all times those who in the past or even recently spitefully ab-use me. I do not allow for manipulation of my love, or its 'weaponization' to my detriment, nevertheless. I am 'somebody' and I deserve and demand to be treated with respect, not trampled.

 
 

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