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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