Baton Rouge needs love, creative nonviolence

By Robert Mann

Was John Lennon right when he and The Beatles sang, “All You Need is Love”? In light of recent events in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas, prescribing an anodyne dose of love might seem woefully insufficient. Surely love, alone, cannot eradicate war, ignorance and hatred, can it?

Maybe in this nuclear age, it’s naive to argue that love is the most powerful force in the universe. But I know people of every faith (and many who profess no religion at all) who hold that love can conquer all. If you are a Christian, you likely believe that love conquered death itself. If so, couldn’t it overcome violence and hatred?

I am awed by the witness of those who have seen and endured some of the worst violence and torture and, yet, responded with love, not hate.

Gandhi, who would die from an assassin’s bullet in 1948, wrote in 1931, “Whether mankind will consciously follow the law of love, I do not know. But that need not perturb us. The law will work, just as the law of gravitation will work whether we accept it or not. And just as a scientist will work wonders out of various applications of the laws of nature, even so a man who applies the law of love with scientific precision can work great wonders.”

Some thought him naive, but Gandhi’s steadfast commitment to creative non-violence (a form of love) helped India throw off the shackles of British colonialism.

One of Gandhi’s devoted students, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was a passionate evangelist for using love and creative nonviolence to transform the hearts and actions of his adversaries. “I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself,” King said in 1967, “and I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many sheriffs, too many white citizens’ councilors, and too many Klansmen of the South to want to hate, myself; and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear.”

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3 Responses to Baton Rouge needs love, creative nonviolence

  1. Stephen Winham says:

    Everybody in this country would do themselves a tremendous service by studying Dr. King’s words. He was the reason I thought we would actually live in a post-racial society within a generation of the mid-1960s civil rights acts (or, as close to one as is humanly possible – racism will never be entirely eliminated and it is folly to believe it will). Progress was made, but we seem to be going backwards of late. No legislation or any other external force can cure hatred or racism. Let’s hope we can find the kind of love Dr. King preached before it is too late for us all.


  2. Hunycat says:

    I have said to my fellow Christians that being a Christian is hard work. It is easy to like the music, raise hands in praise, love and pray for our immediate church family and friends…BUT, we are called to love the unlovely. We are not called to judge or choose who to love. If we believe that God’s Love conquers ALL, then we will simply treat others with the same love that we experience from God for ourselves. Hard but required. This is what I try to live by. May be just my understanding. But, I am at peace with it.


  3. Stephen Winham says:

    Yesterday’s Baton Rouge incident should be a literal shot across the bow warning us of what our society is becoming. The sad fact is it probably won’t. For a prime example of why, look at what Trump had to say about it – Do his statements promote unity of any kind? Do they inspire peaceful solutions? No and no. And, keep in mind, his star is in ascension and H. Clinton’s in decline. The implications are truly frightening.


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