Martin Luther King and January 6

On past Martin Luther King Days, my son and I have often participated in some kind of park clean-up service activity, either sponsored by the Town of Cary, my homeschool group, or my spiritual center. This is yet another tradition that has been upended by social distancing requirements imposed by the threat of COVID-19. So instead, my son and I drew (him) and wrote (me) some thank you cards for the maintenance staff at the US Capitol who cleaned up all the mess after the January 6 riot/

This seems appropriate to me for MLK day because Martin Luther King, Jr. has been a mainstay for me in the past 10+ days as I’ve been trying to come to grips with what I considered the terrible things that happened on January 6. For me, that was a mob assaulting our national Capitol building (particularly injuring and even killing some of the Capitol police), not the fact that the Congress certified the legitimate voting results submitted by the 50 states after a free and effective voting process.

As things would have it, when we were planning the Wednesday night services at our spiritual center, I had said I would do the Wednesday night talk the week before MLK Day weekend on the topic that the King Center for Nonviolence had chosen for this year: The urgency of creating the Beloved Community. Little did I know at the time that this topic would provoke me, but also transport me, through one of the worse episodes of political violence that I had ever experience.

Having done some research on the subject earlier, there is a MLK speech video that haunted/helped me as I tried to process what had happened on January 6:

When I laid down to go to sleep January 6, I was thinking, “Not only do I have to process today’s events on an emotional and a spiritual level, but I have to not only forgive those who rioted, but I have to LOVE them. How do I do that?”

Now, in saying that I “have to,” I don’t mean anyone is making me do it. But I’ve read a lot of Martin Luther King’s writing, and in my head I know he is right. In my head, I know the only thing that will bring peace to this country is us all being united in love for each other, even when we don’t agree with each other. But knowing that in my head and having that live in my heart are two very different things.

So I’m working on it. I realize now that nonviolence doesn’t just mean that I don’t hit, kick, shoot, or physically harm someone; I have to give up my negative judgments, thoughts, anger, etc. that is really violence to the spirit. I’m not there yet. But this Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I’m pledging that I am and I will work to truly practice his theory of nonviolence in my heart and mind as well as in my actions. To that end, I will finish with this great prayer from a master teacher, Dr. King himself:

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