This afternoon, this quote came to me from TeachingTolerance.org , “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. 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.” It was sourced as a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote.
Curious, I searched for the context of the quote and to confirm the source, and learned that it’s a variously paraphrased selection from his 1967 book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? The actual quote reads:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence, you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, 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. – Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? p. 62
It’s hard to think of a more apropos reflection today.