Martin Luther King Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, stand together Dec. 31, 1963. (Library of Congress)

On Martin Luther King Day 2017, America still needs to recognize and study the messages of America’s most renowned reverend. For better or worse, that will likely be the case for all of human history.

Still, as America gears up this week to inaugurate a new president who is viewed as a racist by about 47 percent of Americans, peace-loving people are right to be worried about the coming four years of public discourse about race (and gender, and class) in the United States.

To that end, Martin Luther King Day should be as good a time as any to recall a few key concepts promoted by MLK himself.

On hate and peace

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr. in Strength to Love, 1963.

Should anyone individually or en masse seek to make a difference in combating abuses of power by Donald Trump et al, Martin Luther King would argue that employing violence would be counter intuitive.

So, as protesters prepare to challenge the Trump administration from day one on, they would be best to recall King’s six principles of nonviolence:

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
  2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
  3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people.
  4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
  5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
  6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

With each new generation comes the need to learn the value of nonviolence, but a Trump presidency — achieved on the back of often hateful language and threats of violence — will test countless Trump opponents and proponents in their times of stress.

Even one wrong, violent move could escalate domestic tensions more than America has seen in a long time.

Triple evils

At the same time that Americans ought to be remembering the virtues of nonviolence, we ought to be recalling King’s “triple evils” that he identified as particular forms of violence that “exist in a vicious cycle,” according to The King Center. Those triple evils are:

  • Poverty
  • Racism
  • Militarism

Each of those issues remains powerful in America today, and each of them could conceivably increase under a Trump administration.

As a result, on this Martin Luther King Day, let’s resolve to consider the effects of poverty, racism and militarism. Let’s also resolve that, if we seek to fight them, we must do so nonviolently.