"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
With the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, I wanted to share some thoughts about his willingness to live in the integrity of that for which he stood. It's important to clarify that he did not take a stand against hate, bigotry, prejudice and violence; he took a stand for love, equality, tolerance, compassion and nonviolence.
There is a profound difference between standing "for" and standing "against" anyone or anything; what we push against we give more power to. The memorial being dedicated to Dr. King is not just for or about him -- it's for every human being who has ever been inspired by him to take a stand for love even in the midst of hate.
Hate is a toxic energy, which can wear many different masks, but behind them all dwells the same thing -- fear. Have you ever carried the burden of hate? I know how hard it is to let it go, especially when it seems to be "justified" by another's act of cruelty, thoughtlessness or selfishness. Irrespective of how the hate shows up, when our emotional body harbors intense feelings of hate, we are the ones who suffer; we isolate ourselves from life and actually end up holding ourselves a hostage from happiness.
Sadder yet is the burden of hate that many are immersed in because their caretakers taught them how to hate as a way of life, even before they could talk. There is no question that this kind of hate is born in the fertile womb of fear, which often out-pictures itself as an over inflated sense of superiority, intolerance, bigotry and arrogance. This is sad because it really boils down to a lack of understanding of others who may be different than they -- fueled by fear.
In general, ill-informed people tend to fear what they don't understand. When a lack of understanding others commingles with a feeling of superiority, energized by intolerance and arrogance it becomes a recipe for hate. This is the lesson Dr. King brought to light for America on August 28, 1963, when he declared, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'" That day marked the beginning of a new page in the book of humanity's evolution.
Regardless of how it came about, if hate is a burden we bear today, we owe it to humankind, our friends and family and, more importantly, we owe it to ourselves to heal it. Why? Because life is too long to live it in a self-imposed bondage of anger, resentment and condemnation; and it doesn't serve our soul's purpose for being on the planet. It's counterintuitive to think we can express and experience the sacred presence of God while at the same time staying stuck in the energy of fear and hate, which simply separates and divides us.
The good news is, if willing, we can set ourselves free of the toxicity of hate today. How? Dr. King was right -- by sticking to love. Confucius wrote, "To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right." And so, here we are still trying to learn the lessons of Confucius and Martin Luther King. Separated by space and time and yet the message is the same: To set our hearts right is to set ourselves free to love and to each be the one who makes the world a better place.
If we feel the burden of hate weighing heavy upon our heart, we can invite that place within us where infinite presence dwells to take over. In its highest vibration, God is love. If inclined to, do some self-inquiry today; if you find any sense of hate (in one or more of its very convincing disguises) lingering in the corners of your mind, shed the light of love on it and watch it dissolve. Hate exists in the darkness and in a sense of separation from God (light). Just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, fear cannot maintain its existence in the presence of love.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a very wise man: Stick with love; you'll lighten your burden and the planet will be a better place as well for the next seven generations to come.