For Martin Luther King the ethics of Love was a life-long focus and inner research. He considered the challenge as well as the opportunity of these words transmitted from Jesus — “Love your enemies” in the sermon below, which he called “Loving your enemies.”
It deeply touches me to hear the love in his address to the black community of his church in Montgomery, Alabama — his words invite me into a spiritual and rich world. In the midst of the fight for civil rights and human dignity for all, that involved handling intense amounts of inner suffering from daily contact with segregation, he is asking people to start a spiritual inner journey by looking squarely and honestly at their own inner and outer animosity for man, to work and stretch in order to embrace that animosity inside themselves and to use that knowing to open up a path to humanize their oppressor. Breathtaking. Engaging. Empowering.
How inspiring for me to hear him name the cost of hating — destroying the personality of the hater. Turning the world of values upside down. And is it not true — can we see this happen inside of us, when we give in to hate?
This makes it easier to understand that a person needs love most, when he or she seems the least inviting to us to give it to them with joy or even willingness. And that my actions to ask for love when I need it most, will probably also be hateful and little inviting. Can I learn?
There is much more. Please listen for yourself. Here is a recording of a sermon Martin held on November 17, 1957. With deep gratitude. Subtitles available. A transcript of this sermon is available here.