I learned many things about the ideas and people who influenced Dr. Martin Luther King this past week.
Mahatma Gandhi’s influence Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on Martin Luther King Jr. adopting “passive resistance” and “non-violence” as grounding principles for his civil rights must have solidified during his visit to India in 1959. I was surprised to learn that Gandhi’s attitude toward British oppression was inspired by the Russian Christian Anarchist Leo Tolstoy’s writings particularly the book first published in 1894 in Germany but banned in Russia, The Kingdom of God Is Within You
How do we respond to the violence suffered by millions of people across much of the world? Are we able to see our own violent tendencies and resist them the way Jesus taught us? Do we hear his words, “it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:38-40.
Living a non-violent way of life is as much counter culture today as it was in the time of Jesus. But today, great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and others’ exemplary lives of non-violence can inspire us to live in a way that does no harm to others. The film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” documents a peace movement called the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Organized by a social worker Leymah Gbowee, the movement started with praying and singing in a fish market. Leymah Gbowee organized the Christian and Muslim women of Monrovia, Liberia to pray for peace and to organize nonviolent protests.