Thougths on War and Peace

Posted: September 28, 2006 in Everything

Last night, I hosted a group of folks from our church for what we’re calling, The Wednesday Night Buzz. The thought behind the Buzz is to experience communal spiritual formation as we learn to think theologically in our world. Last night’s topic was war; a subject near and dear to all of us.

I simply shared some of the questions about war that are on my heart, things and ideas that I think about. In the course of gearing up for last night, I was drawn back to the writing and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. I thought I’d post some of his marvelous thoughts here.

Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.
–Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957

At Oslo I suggested that the philosophy and strategy of non-violence become immediately a subject for study and serious experimentation in every field of human conflict, including relations between nations. This was not, I believe, an unrealistic suggestion. World peace through non-violent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Non-violence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built. Racial injustice around the world. Poverty. War. When man solves these three great problems he will have squared his moral progress with his scientific progress. And more importantly, he will have learned the practical art of living in harmony.
–Martin Luther King, Jr., “DREAMS OF BRIGHTER TOMORROWS” (March 1965)

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation… I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow… I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed.
–Martin Luther King, Jr., Address in Acceptance of Nobel Peace Prize – 10 December 1964

I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.
—-Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957

  1. ClayMan says:

    I’m always impressed by the writings of Dr. King. Thank you for sharing these!

  2. R Debenport says:

    Excellent quotes. How did the conversation go with your group?

    I’m sitting here at a non-profit org that supports the oppressed refugees within Burma. On the wall is a poster with a quote from the displaced democratically elected president of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house-arrest in Burma. She states, “There will be change because all the military have are guns.”


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