I grew up in the ’60s, graduating from high school in 1969 and saw my share of idiocy and mayhem perpetrated by those who were ‘protesting’ various and sundry things. There were instances across the country when rampaging mobs torched blocks of buildings inside our major cities, but not once did Pastor Martin Luther King or his organization join in such violence. In fact, such behavior was antithetical to what Dr. King was all about, not only as a pastor of the Gospel of Jesus Christ but as a man who recognized that violence and hatred only beget more of the same. Taking a cue as well from the non-violent protest led by Mahatma Gandhi that resulted in England leaving India, allowing them to become a sovereign nation, he chose the path of non-violence (much as his Savior, Jesus Christ had done) to protest the genuine, horrific persecution of those of color.
So, what is happening now as a so-called protest of one tragic and evil event is no longer such, but has degenerated into mob rule (much like what happened here in Wilmington, N.C. on Thursday, November 10, 1898) seeking not justice, but blood and mayhem. There have been lots of discussions online, and face-to-face about this and I hesitated to join in as there are those whom I respect and admire who have a viewpoint of my position because of an offhand (and admittedly thoughtless) remark made one day that was meant to be funny (having spent several years in the military, particularly in submarines, and then almost 24 years in prison, my sense of humor is decidedly warped). After this happened and I was confronted and counseled about it, I sought to apologize for my remarks and have since stayed away from any such form of humor. But, and this is the part that still does bother me, one person in particular when I approached them asking forgiveness, said that they would be watching me and if my behavior warranted it, would then forgive me. That ‘pea’ kept irritating my sense of belonging in that place to the point that I left.
I remember watching the news back then (Chet Huntley and David Brinkley) and was amazed at the violence done to the civil rights protestors. Some were killed, many jailed, and most suffered horribly at the hands of law enforcement and others across this nation, but they just took it without seeking revenge! Pastor King became known as a leader and proponent of this nonviolent protest taking his cue, as I said above, from Mahatma Gandhi and also Bayard Rustin. He soon found himself in a position of leadership in the civil rights movement and continued in this role until his assassination on April 4th, 1968. As Scripture puts it, ‘though dead, he still speaks…’ (Hebrews 11:4).
The peaceful and gentle man and those who emulated him caused a groundswell of support for the cause of civil rights for the oppressed people of color, and the movement in that direction has continued to this day. Can anyone honestly say that anyone is not better off today than what was common practice in the ‘50s and ‘60s? Yes, there is still improvement in how we all treat our fellow man, but is that reason to revert to animal-like behavior seen across this nation recently? Whatever happened in Minneapolis is no reason to toss aside the lessons that Gandhi and Pastor King taught us. By becoming violent, any support for change that would take place vanishes like mist on a sunny morning. Yes, protest this and other wrongs that have been done, but do so as Dr. King demonstrated and shame those who are so evil to perpetrate these crimes. Don’t join them in their violence; be at peace with all men and let society see the difference.