Words Illuminating the Night

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January 21, 2013

A few years ago I had the privilege of working on a project with the namesake of Bryan Potter Design. Every year since I’ve received from Bryan a card commemorating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. It arrives in the mail a a few days before the MLK Day holiday. The cards are always poignant, with a striking image of the civil rights leader and one of his profound, eloquent quotes. The quote on this year’s card echoed long after I read it. That’s no surprise so soon after the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary. And the first of the two sentences may rank as the best I’ve read for what it conveys and how. It’s so deceivingly simple and brief yet so complex and evocative in content and cadence:

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

I hope President Obama recites King’s quote when he addresses gun control today during his inauguration and, however briefly, drowns out the screeching screeds of those whose only answer to violence is more guns in more hands.