Remembering the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr:

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.
It’s time to compare those “peaceful protests” to what nonviolence really means
On a Personal note/By Maramis

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

It’s almost like the only news that stands out this year has been the big three: the pandemic, the upcoming presidential candidate pre-election battles, and the death and destruction in certain cities across this nation, especially since and likely because of the death of George Floyd. None of any of that contributes to a pretty or peaceful picture.
Perhaps the pandemic has encouraged many of us to learn more about such things and how to get and stay healthier; perhaps the upcoming election has made us more aware of what could happen to this country if the wrong candidate gets chosen; and perhaps all the sad violence and destruction around the country has given us pause to think about better ways to express our feelings about injustice.
Speaking of injustice, many of us have experienced our own injustice, from something small to something big enough to impact our very lives, and we know how it feels. But how many of us would first think of burning down the buildings in our town, throwing fire bombs at the police, or rioting in the streets, causing innocent bystanders or anyone in their way to be hurt or even killed as a direct result of their random or focused violence?
While the pandemic may be affecting us all in some way, if not directly regarding our bodily health, and the outcome of the upcoming election is still to be battled out before the results can be known, it is the raw and unnecessary violence that spreads like a virus intotowns and cities that shows others around the world what we are really like. How sad is that?
All countries have their health challenges and their political differences, but not all countries have residents who attack their own citizens, burn down their own cities, and kill those who havedifferent beliefs from themselves. It always amazes me that we have learned so little from history as a combined society, having lived through the Civil War and its devastation and the failed attempt at segregation, and the more modern and ageless actions and words of
Martin Luther King, Jr, who was the epitome of a person trying to teach this country the value of how to enact change for justice through nonviolence. When it comes to solving problems with nonviolence, no one has done more for this country, barring a man who lived over 2,000 years ago, than Dr. King.
Yes, we know he was not a perfect man, but his teachings were his greatest legacy. How sad that they are being forgotten at a time when we might need them most. For those who might choose to look for the gnat in Dr. King’s eye, just as they might also be the same ones who criticize Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln, consider first what makes up the beam in their own eye. One does not have to be perfect to do phenomenal things for the good of this country.
Consider this: so many in this country choose violence first because it doesn’t take much thinking: You hurt me, I hurt you. You deprive me of something I feel is rightfully mine and I will make sure I get it one way or another, no matter what it takes or who gets hurt. You call me names or say bad things about me and I will go on social media and double down on what I say about you and your kind. And on and on. The non-violent, non tit-for-tat way of responding to the injustices of life takes thought, restraint, and above all, a sincere love of our neighbor (as Jesus taught), in addition to the desire to remove the blockages that keep us stuck in the violence-go’round and the patience needed toward achieving that end. The non-thinking choice (violence) keeps us from not only NOT achieving peace, but reinforces the barriers to brotherly love for our neighbor. (If you need to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” just remember the parable of the Good Samaritan which covers what virtually all religions teach: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Wouldn’t we all hope that when we’re in need, someone, no matter who, would come to our aid?)
A quick overview of what we all already know but might choose to forget are the Triple Evils that were elaborated on by Dr. King — POVERTY, RACISM, AND MILITARISM — and which keep us locked in a cage screaming for justice. The following are extracts from The King Center Website:
Under Poverty, we have unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality, slums…
“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty … The well-off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’”
Under Racism, we have prejudice, apartheid, ethnic conflict, anti-Semitism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, ageism, discrimination against disabled groups, stereotypes…
“Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. It is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.”
Under Militarism, we have war, imperialism, domestic violence, rape, terrorism, human trafficking, media violence, drugs, child abuse, violent crime…
“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This way of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
King’s SIX PRINCIPLES OF NONVIOLENCE, without comment, are:
—Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
—Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
—Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
—Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
—Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
—Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.
Dr. King has much to say about how to implement those principles in his Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change, based on his nonviolent campaigns and teachings that emphasize love in action. I sincerely hope that all those “peaceful protestors” out there will give Dr. King’s tried-and-true solutions for an alternative to violence a try before they light the next match or throw the next rock or destroy the next building — and in the wake of their destruction, not only don’t achieve their goals, but cause suffering that can never be undone.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at maramistribune@gmail.com.

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