by Robert Kenneth Jones
“The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community. The aftermath of nonviolence is redemption. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation. The aftermath of violence is emptiness and bitterness.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King worked for the establishment of a Beloved Community. The Beloved Community in which love of enemies, non-violent resolution of conflicts, human dignity, peace, and freedom will overcome hatred, division, and selfishness.
What a magnificent dream. His message of love stirred up controversy and he was called a rabble-rouser. His message of love made lots of enemies but he was undeterred.
God wants a humanity that is characterized by this sort of fearless love which neutralizes the power of evil and transforms it into good.
Fifty years ago, Dr. King was taken from us at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. It was such a tragic day. Violence, fear, and hatred seemed to rob us of his beloved community dream. But of course, in reality, violence never wins.
One of the most amazing peacemakers I have known rose from the ashes of that dark day in Tennessee. Clare Hanrahan, began her battle for justice and mercy when she was 18 in her home town of Memphis after the assassination of Dr. King in 1968. From then on her work has been tireless.
Though many of our generation put aside work for non-violence and the beloved community after the War in Vietnam, Clare did not stop. She has been a protester at the gates of bomb factories, has been jailed in federal prison for protesting at the School of The Americas and has stood in silent, non-violent vigils for immigrants, women and the marginalized.
At age 62 she started an organization called New South Network of War Resisters. Clare recently said in an interview at her Asheville, NC home, “I think we've all got to live in the light of what we feel is right action and just do that.”
One of her books, The Half-Life of a Free Radical: Growing Up Irish Catholic in Jim Crow Memphis, tells the story of her work and struggles. She has been a light for us all to follow exemplifying Dr. King’s dream and stressing alternatives to violence.
Like Clare Hanrahan, we always have the option to be kind and gentle. We always have the option to let go of personal bias in favor of cooperation. We always have the option to love instead of hate. We have the chance, here and now, to exercise these options and become co-creators of Dr. King’s beloved community.
About the Author
In a career spanning over four decades, Robert Kenneth Jones has been an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse. His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.
Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin
Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast
Drawing courtesy of Vivien Feyer, gifts of the Society for the Support of Chemical Weapons Victims.