Here's some quotes of Martin Luther King. It's starting to be a yearly tradition for me to post them on MLK Day but they point to a social and a religious vision that rarely gets a hearing today:
There is something in human nature that can respond to goodness. So that man is neither innately good nor is he innately bad; he has potentialities for both. Man is not totally depraved; to put it in theological terms, the image of God is never totally gone. There is something within human nature that can be changed and this stands at the top of the whole philosophy of non-violence.
This method (non-violent resistance) is nothing more and nothing less than Christianity in action. It seems to me to be the Christian way of life in solving problems of human relations. The aftermath of nonviolence is the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. In speaking of love I am not referring to some sentimental and affectionate emotion. Love in this connection means understanding good will as expressed in the Greek word Agape. It means understanding, redeeming good will for all men.
Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil. The greatest way to do that is through love. I believe firmly that love is a transforming power than can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good will, and justice.
The universe is on the side of justice. One knows that in the struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship. (There is) some creative force that works for togetherness, a creative force in the universe that works to bring the disconnected aspects of reality into a harmonious whole. There is a creative power in the universe that works to bring low gigantic mountains of evil and pull down prodigous hilltops of injustice.
The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.
All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.
This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifiying principle of life.
Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community. It is insistence on community even when one seeks to break it. The cross is the eternal expression of the length to which God will go in order to restore broken community. The resurrection is a symbol of God's triumph over all forces that seek to block community. The Holy Spirit is the continuing community creating reality that moves through history. He who works against community is working against the whole of creation.
Therefore, If I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in broken community. I can only only close the gap in broken community with love. If I meet hate with hate, I become depersonalized, because creation is so designed that my personality can only be fullfilled in the context of community.
In the final analysis, agape means a recognition of the fact that all life is interrelated...all humanity is involved in a single process...