Forgiveness does not come easily to me...
cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”--Dr. Martin Luther
does not come easily to me. Hanging onto the rope of indignation has callused my emotional hands; muscled me up. Early
on--in the two years following my having been a bullied target at my school--I thought letting go meant falling into the abyss
of more abuse; that letting go meant an emotional death of sorts--a playing of the "so-obviously-wrong-to-support-such-brutes"
game my school district had created to protect its many abusive "buddy-principals." I thought it was a place
of death--sharp and pointed "gotcha!" rocks meant to impale truth; maybe a hot desert with the bones of other employees
picked clean of the meat of their own reports; picked clean by the beaks of the vultures of my school district.
I did not want to be another
pile of bones, so I hung on. I shut my eyes tight and hung on.
But, because I was so desperate, I'd not looked down. I just kept holding
and holding and holding on. It had become my mission to NOT LET GO; only that. I'd lost sight of why I was hanging there;
why I was kicked over the edge--and of how at first I'd begun the journey to what I'd thought would be ``castles of kindness--schools
free of bullying and filled with honor, led by smart, kind, and creative monarchs/principals--only to find myself hanging
tenaciously now for six years from this rope of indignation and outrage.
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
In Atlanta--at the Dr. Martin Luther King Center and his boyhood home,
I thought of Dr. King's sacrifices and his dreams; his courage. At the entrance to the center is a mural created by Louis
Delsarte that depicts Dr. King's life.
stand together at the mural, dear readers. Look left, please. See Martin as a boy surrounded by his devoted family.
Imagine him at the dinner table of his boyhood home--the house we've just toured--each night debating and discussing
his Atlanta, Georgia world's wrongs and rights with his father, mother, grandmother. See him in the bed he shared with
his brother. He's reading, reading, reading until late at night; until his father calls out: "Lights out! I
at the vibrancy that exists still in his boyhood neighborhood. I could see him--Sunday morning walking to church; after
school outside and playing ball with neighborhood children in those same streets.
Now, look straight on at the mural. There he is, this time leading a movement;
this time surrounded by his devoted followers. There are thousands of them.
Ah. There is Bull Connor, too. Bull Connor of the unleashed dogs
and hoses. Bull Connor, himself a leader of something very different than that something of Martin Luther King.
Bull Connor, too, has thousands
must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our
enemies."--Martin Luther King, Jr.
to the far right. See a seemingly innocuous and mundane place that, with a shot ringing out, would become a symbol of
suffering. It is the Lorraine Motel. It is on its balcony that Dr. King drew his last breath. Beside its depiction
on the mural; beside the desperately pointing fingers--"There! There! The shot came from THERE!" (oh, if only finding
the shooter and his gun would allow us to rewind that piece of our nation's horrors!)-- of the people surrounding Dr. King
as he lay dying on that balcony is a quote from his speech given the night before. Let's read it together:
"I may not get there with
you. But I want you to know tonight
, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!"
Being here, with you, helps open my eyes; helps me see--know--that forgiveness
does not mean I acquiesce. I open my eyes. I look down into the lushness of the chasm-- that which I'd thought was a place
of death--beneath me; into the heart of my own inner peace and strength. It is from that place and with its truth that I look