Neither Gandhi nor MLK were perfect, but it is very hard to become wise is we can only learn from perfect people, so today in our Conversations in Living Class we are looking at the actual checklist MLK used for protestors (the part in quotes). I have added my thoughts (the part in brackets.) Feel free to add your thoughts to the conversation. 


“I hereby pledge myself — my person and body — to the nonviolent movement. Therefore I will keep the following ten commandments:”

1. “Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.”

(While this is good advice for Christians, we must now realize that our human family is a rainbow of world views and so each of us must learn a new vocabulary that is universalistic. It is fine for any of us to speak authentically from our own tradition, but we must end the practice of reducing the movement for universal human rights to any one sect. Every noble tradition has a model of gentleness, and so they do not need to convert to Christian vocabulary before they can be members of our movement.) 

2. “Remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation — not victory.”

(Gandhi always said that the purpose of resistance is to illumine a principle, not eliminate an opponent.)

3. “Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.”

(Again this kind of talk is fine for theists, but non theists have their own images for love. To require others to convert to our image of love is not very loving.)

4. “Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.”

(Not everybody prays. Some contemplate, some meditate, some just think about things. And I’m sure if MLK were alive he would be the first to cast out sexist language now. We are working for all PEOPLE to be free.)

5. “Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.”

(I believe we have a duty NOT to surrender our agency even to a good cause, but we must harmonize our will to a greater good.)

6. “Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.”

(Civility does not mean passivity. This is a checklist for those about to commit civil disobedience. In a time of brutality and lies we must not lose our reason and humanity just because others have lost theirs.) 

7. “Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.”

8. “Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.”

(Even if we believe we have a duty to physically protect others from violence, a demonstration is an attempt to communicate and educate. We cannot awaken a frightened propagandized population by trying to scare them.)

9. “Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.”

(Self care is essential for the life of an activist. We mustn’t be violent with ourselves to teach peace to others.)

10. “Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.”

(Since a demonstration is an effort by organizers to express a message it is helpful for all of us to sing from the same sheet music.)

“I sign this pledge, having seriously considered what I do and with the determination and will to persevere.”