||CHAPTER 4: ANGER VS. FEAR AND PESSIMISM||Page 11|
If anger is not guided by the optimism of vision and clear humanistic values, it can be diverted into desperate and anti-human activities. The enemies of peace and justice often try to exploit anger in order to divert movements into such desperation (footnote 6). We later learned that the FBI itself was involved in trying to provoke and divert the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., although we may never know who gave the order to bomb his home in 1956. The bombing threatened to turn the nonviolent movement for bus desegregation that he was leading into a "race riot" which could have become the "darkest night in Montgomery's history":
I was immediately driven home. As we neared the scene I noticed hundreds of people with angry faces in front of the house....One Negro was saying to a policeman, who was attempting to push him aside: "I ain't gonna move nowhere. That's the trouble now; you white folks is always pushin' us around. Now you got your .38 and I got mine; so let's battle it out." As I walked toward the front porch, I realized that many people were armed. Nonviolent resistance was on the verge of being transformed into violence.
King calmed the crowd and harnessed their anger to the work of the movement, calling for Christian values and optimism:
Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: "Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you." This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love. Remember, if I am stopped, this movement will not stop, because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.
Anger is not the same as violence. While President Reagan has ordered many violent actions, including the most dangerous military buildup in world history, he is said to be almost devoid of emotions by those who have seen him in private visits. After visiting Reagan, Helen Caldicott described him as a man without empathy, "like a cardboard photograph." In contrast, Gandhi, the greatest teacher of nonviolence, explains in his autobiography how he learned to reserve his anger from minor encounters and harness it later "for fighting bigger battles." In adopting Gandhi's nonviolent methods to the U.S. struggle for civil rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. explained:
Nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight.... while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non?resistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
In the dynamic mechanisms of the human brain, anger and fear are opposing forces (footnote 7). This fact was recognized by Martin Luther King, Jr., who pointed out that fear can suppress anger, while anger can produce the courage that overcomes fear:
The long repressed feelings of resentment on the part of the Negroes had begun to stir. The fear and apathy which had for so long cast a shadow on the life of the Negro community were gradually fading before a new spirit of courage and self-respect.
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