As we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. today, I think of all the peacemakers throughout history who have made lasting impressions for good. Their conviction was and is so strong that it continues to touch the entire world to this day.
Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, the Dali Lama, Malala Yousafzai, and so many, many more were and are peacekeepers.
Some of the commonalities peacemakers share are these:
- They forgive
- They care
- They give the benefit of the doubt
- They keep trying each day
- They love
When Princess Diana visited an AIDS ward, pulled off her gloves and held the hands of dying patients, that kind and simple gesture reverberated around the world. So much hatred and fear of the deadly disease was mitigated by a princess with loving hands.
Jesus Christ changed the hearts of many in His walk on the earth. Beggars, thieves, prostitutes, lepers–all were the same to Him. As he hung from the cross in His final hours, he still forgave.
Mother Theresa tended those people that society deemed ‘untouchable.’ While in her care, she made sure that the sick and dying were bathed, dressed in clean, fresh clothing, and were loved and comforted as they left this earth.
We too can be peacemakers in our lives. We are peacemakers when we decide to ignore an insult or a rude comment. We are peacemakers when we smile at a stranger. We are peacemakers when we hold the door open for someone. We are peacemakers when we remain calm in the face of turmoil. We are peacemakers when we help someone. And we are peacemakers when we forgive ourselves, because we matter, too.
Some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s quotes come to mind today:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
And my favorite: “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
When people scoff and say that one person can’t make a difference, look to those who have.