Reflecting further on the sacred masculine as shared by MLK Jr and his mentor, Howard Thurman, we see that the actions and rituals of non-violence flow from a value system and habits (virtues) of putting love first—even love for our enemies. 

Martin Luther King Jr’s Love Your Enemies Speech. Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on November 17, 1957. Video uploaded by Brett Bymaster.

As Thurman put it, Jesus rests his case for the ultimate significance of life on the love ethic.  Love is the intelligent, kind but stern expression of kinship of one individual for another having as its purpose the maintenance and furtherance of life at its highest level.

The scriptures say that “love drives out fear.”  Thurman says that “this idea—that God is mindful of the individual—is of tremendous import in dealing with fear as a disease.”  Those whose backs are up against the wall, as he puts, it, are constantly given a negative answer to the most important personal questions upon which mental health depends: ‘Who am I?  What am I?”

This same question is alive today in congress: Minorities are asking: “Am I a citizen who has a right to vote or not?”  All fifty Republican senators and two democratic senators responded in the negative yesterday, a day after a holiday to Martin Luther King Jr. who led the nonviolent revolution to assure that right, a right ripped away from Justice John Roberts’s so-called supreme court in 2013. 

ABC News Capitol Hill correspondent Rachel Scott discusses the Democrats’ final push to pass voting rights legislation as Martin Luther King Jr.’s family and supporters rally in Washington, D.C. Video by ABC News.

Now the green light is lit anew for further voting restrictive laws to be passed in state legislatures around the country (last count was 400 such laws).  I hope Mr. Roberts is happy.  A majority of American citizens are not. 

Racism is alive and well in America.  Hatred is alive and well and being defended by laws in what is left of America.  Last one out turn off the lights.  Oh!  Isn’t this good news though—the filibuster is standing!  Just not the constitution and the 14th and 15th amendments and the reason why the civil war was fought and civil rights legislation was passed in 1965 and passed again over the previous decades.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 212, 208

Also see Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.  

Also see Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision For a New Generation

To read the transcript for Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “December 10 march for voting rights, Occupy Wall Street 2011” Photo by Michael Fleshman on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

How do you relate what Thurman calls Jesus’s “love ethic” to the senate’s refusal to create national voting rights laws and the “supreme” court’s gutting of the same nine years ago?

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10 thoughts on “Thurman on Love & Senate Vote Against Voting Rights”

  1. Avatar

    Matthew’s words:
    “What we have to do is to ignite the energy of fire, of moral outrage, and to go out and work strongly to elect new senators who will speak for the rights of all Americans.”
    Jesus’s words:
    “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled.” Luke:12:49

    1. Avatar

      Gwen, I appreciate within your comment Jesus’s words, which I would add, that it is our responsibility to kindle this fire within ourselves and each other through our relationships… through our relationship with God, Christ and the incarnational presence and essence of the Holy Spirit, as well as our relationship with the different aspects of ourselves which includes our humanity and our divinity as well as that within others.

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, Of course I agree with the spirit of Matthew’s words, but if you focus too strongly on the words, “the rights of ALL Americans” it raises the question of whether we should vote for senators who will protect the rights of those who will not be vaccinated or will not wear masks, or of those who took part in the insurrection a year ago January??? So we must be careful who we choose to represent us, that they are really doing just that!!!

  2. Avatar

    What I hear in MLK’s sermon regarding the gospel message of how to Love our enemies, was the importance of focusing on separating the unjust deeds from the actual soul of the person. Politicians often fail to do this, personally attacking one another. Jesus exemplified this, by speaking truth to the unjust deed, and then addressing the fears attached to this, while acknowledging the potential of that inherent goodness within another, with the intention of awakening this within the other. In doing so, through often his parabolic, analogic and metaphoric storytelling ways, he also pierced the conscience of the heart, mind and soul of another… shifting their conscious awareness from themself and their own fears, into perceiving the rights and values to be discovered within love and justice itself and the wisdom ways of this, when responded to.

    This transformative process of love and justice is not an easy stance to stand in the center of, however as MLK demonstrates, there is strength, empowerment and encouragement offered in communion with others and the Spirit and source of this essence and presence of Love and Justice as well as the wisdom ways of this, through prayer… and the comfort, consolation and wise counsel offered through this; that assists those united, to endure, persevere, to not give up or give in… to continue to speak truth, and to stand for the common rights for all, which value all… through the ways of love and justice… in the manner, measure and maturity of that union of the sacredness of our divinity seeded and sealed within our humanity… that Jesus demonstrated… which is much needed in this world not just with regards to our relationships with humans, but also with regards to our relationships with the all and everything of creation as well. Our faith, hope and trust in manifesting this reality may be slow and arduous, but it is not in vain.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Loving our enemies is probably one of the hardest things we must do in our spiritual lives. It brings to the fore the ideas of love and justice as you mention, but the scriptures also speak about mercy and justice–and these words: “He has told you, Dear one, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)…

  3. Avatar

    As the Rev. Dr. King points out, love is not sentiment but rather a powerful force that redeems and transforms.
    It is not a passive stance but an active one that calls us to the barricades, at least symbolically. If we can love our enemies, then they are no longer our enemies but just people like us with light and darkness. Much as I enjoy demonizing certain ones sometimes, it’s completely non-productive and counter-productive. I think that many politicians are acting shamefully and shamelessly, and I agree with Matthew that we should work to deprive them of power and elect more than have some kind of moral compass. The voting restrictions are designed to prevent this, of course, because power corrupts and does not want to “lose”, but we are still called to do the best we can, in an attitude of love.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you Rev Fox for every daily meditation and especially today. “Am I a citizen who has a right to vote or not?” That is what I will be asking when I call Senators after today.
    Also when those in power try to take away anyone’s vote then they are taking away my vote as well. If we are one, then that is the case.

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