I originally published the following article during the King Day celebration circa 2023. Since then, things have only gotten worse for race relations in America. According to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll released in early 2023, most Black Americans (51%) believe racism will get worse during their lifetime. Only 11% believe it will get better.
Dr. King's 'beloved community', a community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger and hate is the aim of all who pause to commemorate his work.
We are barely a month out of the annual commemoration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and hate still exists on many different levels in our world.
We’ve been conditioned to see hate mostly from a geo-political perspective — such as world wars, hate crimes and racial indignities.
Hate, though, begins as a thought. This thought intersects between humans on just about every level of interaction — on the playground in schools across America, in corporate boardrooms, in neighborhoods etc.
Hate is a product of both nature and nurture.
We need a new paradigm on hate, a new way of looking at it. Then we may be able to come to terms with the virulence that now dominates the national conversation.
Make no mistake about it. The former occupant of the White House has become — consciously or unintentionally — the face of bigotry and intolerance, even after his unceremonious departure. But we must not, cannot and will not allow ourselves to be dragged down to the level of hate. Our ancestors have marched too long; given too much of themselves and cut short their dreams and hopes so that we may walk with pride and dignity.
Dr. Martin Luther King espoused love as the highest principle for mitigating against hate, connecting it to its biblical foundation.
We can counter hate by looking at it differently and allowing ourselves to become beacons of hope and change. Here are ‘King’ attitudes we can adopt today to make that happen.
Allow No Room for a Person to Hate You
I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him. –Booker T. Washington
View hate as an infectious disease. Like a disease, hate needs a host organism — it needs to attach itself to a foreign entity to survive. We can resist hate by refusing to allow it to attach itself to our thinking and to our spirit. “I will not allow hate to attach itself to me” should become a common mantra to each of us.
Even if there is evidence of it being so, do not allow yourself to become part of someone’s hate.
Consciously Commit a Random Act of Love
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The venerable Bob Marley made the line “love is my religion” famous. Make love your religion. Do something nice for a person of another race or gender without expecting anything in return. Consciously perform a random act of love. Give someone a hug. Praise the efforts of someone. Honor a co-worker’s birthday with a card.
Better yet, just make it a point of speaking to absolute strangers. The old song is right: what the world needs now is love, sweet love.
Do Not Get Caught in the Hate Cycle
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain. ~James Baldwin
In our twenty-four news cycle it’s easy to become locked in to the viciousness taking place in our society. The events in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 are likely still replaying in our minds. That’s mainly because of the endless loop of coverage it received in the media. We must keep informed and enlightened, but not at the peril of our spiritual and mental well-being.
Take a regular break from the local news. Do a television fast. Occasionally avoid the gathering at the water cooler (or cubicle) to chat about trending topics, especially when they are negative. People tend to gather in groups in order to reaffirm their own hate and pain as discussed in the day’s news.
Often, the ‘hate cycle’ is the news cycle. Do your part to tend to your spirit.
We can counter hate by looking at it differently and allowing ourselves to become beacons of hope and change. Then may we endeavor to build the “beloved community” Dr. King and others fought and died for.
Pastor W. Eric Croomes is Executive Director of The Charley and Dorothy Croomes Foundation and author of Surge into the New: Stand Up Reach God’s Excellence. Pastor Croomes can be reached at email@example.com and www.pastorwericcroomes.com