|Martin Luther King: |
thought it but didn't say it
Last Monday this quote went viral, attributed to Martin Luther King. The attribution is only half right. It seems that “I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy” are the words of an 24-year old American English teacher currently working in Japan, by the name of Jessica Dovey, who posted these words on Facebook (or somewhere).
Other than the first sentence, the rest of the quote is indeed Martin Luther King, from page 53 of his 1963 collection of sermons entitled Strength to Love.
It’s in a chapter entitled “Loving Your Enemies”, which includes the paragraph:-
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says 'Love your enemies', he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
As to Jessica’s own words "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy”: whereas the words may not be Martin Luther King's, the thought is. In the same book, he wrote this about the drowning of Pharaoh’s soldiers in the crossing of the Red Sea as related in Exodus:-
“The meaning of this story is not found in the drowning of Egyptian soldiers, for no one should rejoice at the death or defeat of a human being.”
A final point. Jessica Dovey is not to blame for the viral misattribution of the quote in its entirety to MLK. In her original post, the attribution was correct. My guess is that someone else retweeted it and, in the mistaken belief they were correcting an error, moved the position of the quote marks.
Source : a Stanford University blog.