The Rev. King was imprisoned more than once as a result of his civil rights activities. During a two-week confinement in a filthy jail in in 1962, he used his time to work on his sermons. One of these was “Loving Your Enemies” from which the following excerpts are taken. The sermon is included in his book, “Strength to Love”, published in 1963.
“First we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love . . .
Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the cancelling of a debt . . .
[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. “