“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” Martin Luther King Jr. is saying that guns, bombs, missiles and drones will not achieve peace. Maybe a temporary kind of truce can be reached but true and lasting peace won’t be realized by violence. MLK was a human rights activist in the 50s and 60s, but he was a preacher too. He was familiar with Matthew’s Gospel (5:44) and knew these words of Jesus, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
Jesus and MLK both knew the conundrum that peace and love are achieved by peace and love. Neither may be a present reality but both are out of reach as long as we fail to practice them.
Jesus knew that the mere act of loving an enemy transforms the enemy into a friend. Perhaps not right away, but eventually. Well, loving an enemy transforms me and eventually my enemy because I have changed. As MLK said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” So, whether our goal is peace or love, success is dependent on understanding that peace and love are the only means to themselves.
It is maddening that people are willing to kill on behalf of a God who commands that, “Thou shalt not kill” (Deuteronomy 5:17). In no way will I ever defend religious extremism. God’s Commandment is clear and we are right to be outraged by sectarian violence and murder. However, I wonder, where is the outrage when thousands of people die of starvation every day because of our selfish, capitalistic policies? Surely, the capitalists are capable of finding a way to profit off of peace. Peace and love are worthy goals. MLK also said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”