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. 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.
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, we honor the life and work of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.–pastor, humanitarian and civil rights activist. He fought against hatred, injustice, and discrimination. And, he did it with a spirit of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not easy. When examining the life and experiences of Dr. King, it’s nearly impossible to imagine how he could say these profound and beautiful words. Perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of his message and his life was that he truly lived these words. Dr. King had experienced great pain and suffering, but he refused to give in to hatred.
Dr. King had a deep understanding of human nature and the human experience. He understood that beyond our actions, our foibles and strengths, beyond the harm we cause and the joy we bring, is an indefatigable spirit, untouched by the whims of this world. When we look into the eyes of someone who has caused us pain, we are actually looking beyond the “good” and “evil” to pure, loving spirit.
This doesn’t mean that we condone destructive or harmful behavior. There are times when we are required to protect ourselves or others. But we can still make our choices from a place of forgiveness. And by choosing to forgive, we embrace the whole picture—all elements, people, particulars and we create space for love.
Today, as we remember the spirit of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us carry these beautiful words close to our hearts. And let us try, as best we may, in our small corners of the world—and maybe even beyond these corners if we are so called—to develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.