On March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at a rally giving a speech called, “Our God is Marching On.” Being that the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” has been one of my favorite songs for as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed reading the magnificent words in this speech. Dr. King gave this speech at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march, in a time period when fear was the norm and hate speech would have filled Facebook had it existed in that time period. Many believe this speech sparked the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The words of Dr. King fifty one years ago hold the same powerful truth today, “The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.”
Friends the struggles that were highlighted during this Presidential campaign season are far from over. The road ahead is most definitely not a “smooth one.” There is no “broad highway” or easy solution, and to be honest with you, even if the results were different this week, there would still be no “quick solutions.” But the truth in 1965 that “we must keep going” rings true today, more than ever.
Martin Luther King Jr. went on to say, “the faith that nonviolence and its power can transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows, we will be able to change all of these conditions.” Violence is never the answer. Violence never met a problem that it actually solved. To continue with the words of Dr. King, he said in 1964, “But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”
Dr. King hit the nail on the head 52 years ago in that Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, we must strive to “win his understanding.” We must strive to work together as a community to meet each other where they are, understand their point of view, embrace their fears and allow LOVE TO TRUMP HATE. All violence will do is “create bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.” We MUST create a “dialogue” and not a “monologue.”
In June of 2007, Hillary Clinton said, “The worst thing that can happen in a democracy – as well as in an individual’s life – is to become cynical about the future and lose hope.” And I truly believe, even in defeat today, she still believes this to be true. And we as Americans, those of you who are her supporters and those of us who were not, would do well by each other to remember this statement. We cannot lose hope. I cannot lose hope in America by watching the senseless violence that is stemming from what some hoped would be peaceful protests this week. And you cannot lose hope in America by the swearing in of a candidate for President that you did not support.
Politics is as flawed as it comes, and that only makes sense when you remember that we as humans are ALL flawed. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mandy Asberry, and you can go ahead and insert your name here as well. Where humans live, flaws will exist. Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” Politicians are not the answer, government is not the answer. We need to remember the words of David in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” We have to be careful who we place our hope in, politicians, entertainers, athletes will all let us down. Heck Colin Kaepernick started a movement of kneeling during the National Anthem to bring attention to social injustice and then didn’t even go to vote. I am NOT a Stephen A. Smith fan (quite the opposite), but I’d have to agree with what he said on ESPN yesterday that now, “what he said meant absolutely nothing” when discussing Kap. This world will not bring you peace, it will not bring you hope, it will not bring you joy-only Jesus Christ can do that and we as believers, democrats and republicans alike, need to be showing that peace, that hope and joy to the world around us who is struggling with the events of this week.
Chants of “Not my President” are ringing out in some of our nation’s biggest cities from New York , to Chicago, to LA, to Seattle and many places in between. One thing I do know for sure is that no matter how many anti-Trump slogans you yell, no matter how many fires you start in protest (which by the way makes no sense) that will not prevent his Inauguration in January. But what it will do is drive a deeper divide in this nation that you claim is your problem with Mr. Trump. I’m not sure how that makes any sense to these protestors. I understand they are upset, disheartened, disappointed and scared-but just as MLK said, “violence is NEVER the answer.”
There have been a few moments that I’ve been proud of my country in reading Facebook. I love seeing those who are feeling upset about the election results who are already taking action to help make a better tomorrow-they are writing letters to their elected officials, they are making donations to organizations that help others and they are hosting events for those on both sides of the aisle. I love seeing my fellow Republicans reaching out to their Democratic friends with an olive branch and words of encouragement. This country has a lot of wounds that need to heal, wounds that I assure you existed before this week and have absolutely nothing to do with the Presidential candidates.
We MUST stand united, this is the UNITED States of America after all. Barack Obama said yesterday in his speech about the election, “The point though is that we all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That’s how this country has moved forward for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That’s how we’ve expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.” We have to have faith in one another and we have to have faith in this country. This democracy, even if you don’t agree with the results, is a far better place to live than those who face dictatorship day in and day out. We have come this far as a nation by finding ways to understand our differences and finding a common ground of respect. These protests around the country last night will not make matters better, they will only ensue further hate, further divide, and in turn-more fear.
If love really trumps hate, that means love for all people-not just those who voted the same as you. And honestly, if love really trumps hate, it also trumps hate for Donald Trump. We, as believers, must show love to one another no matter race, sexual orientation or religious affiliation-if we don’t set the example, how will the world know?