Dr. King’s Wise Words

There’s a quote gone viral on Facebook today, one day after news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, which I saw others sharing and also reposted, but later discovered was a misquote — so here is the real version. Or rather, what I believe is the real version, still grabbed via a wiki on the Internet and not researched beyond that (so believe at your own risk!). But, it does seem a lot more reputable, and more what I remember from past readings…

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. … Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr

Martin Luther King, Jr. photographed by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964. LC-DIG-ppmsc-01269

Well said, Dr. King, well said.  Rings so true today, just as I am sure it did back when he was speaking these words so many years ago.

Sources for the above quote, as listed in the MLK wikiquote: ‘Where Do We Go From Here?” as published in Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? (1967), p. 62; many statements in this book, or slight variants of them, were also part of his address Where Do We Go From Here?” which has a section below. A common variant appearing at least as early as 1968 has “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence…” An early version of the speech as published in A Martin Luther King Treasury (1964), p. 173, has : “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate…”

Photo Credit: Library of Congress photo LC-DIG-ppmsc-01269

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Update:  Here is a link that explains the story of how the Facebook quote was born (what I assumed had happened, ha) and here’s a nice blog post pointing out some of MLK’s actual words that share a very similar sentiment to that first sentence of the FB quote.


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