It Takes Incredible Strength to Love





I sometimes wonder why he tried so hard.

Why did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. love so much? Where did he find the strength? Why did he compel all of us to love when love was not what he received in return for his genuine effort?

Where does one find the courage to love human beings who despise love, abhor equality and deny justice? Come on now—it’s not like this gentleman took on an occasional heckling. Throughout Dr. King’s entire life—I mean every single year he lived (can you imagine) he was spit on, threatened, disrespected, incarcerated and ultimately murdered. Where is the love in that? Where is the gratitude for his sacrifice?

Despite the indignity of human cruelty Dr. King asked us—no—in fact he compelled us with every fiber of his being– to love. Why? It makes no sense.

I weep with anger recollecting the times as a young girl when I witnessed my beautiful mother spit upon simply because of her race. I wanted to take the whole neighborhood out. I was furious when they threw rice and dog feces in our yard as if to exemplify some gross display of how they viewed our family. We were a family of a mother, father and seven beautifully intelligent and gifted children—but they did not see us that way—why?

I remember vividly how my father was treated for starting unions for a fair wage and then mistreated by those same Unions he risked his life for compelling equal access to longshoreman and merchant marines who were excluded simply by the color of their skin—why? I can give you literally hundreds of examples of injustice I endured throughout my life but they pale in comparison to what Dr. King endured.

I don’t know how Martin Luther King. Jr. did it –but his witness to me as a young girl changed the trajectory of my life, changed the way I thought and motivated the way I treated others. There were moments I wish I could spew bitter hatred or rally behind some nonsensical politician espousing an agenda of retaliation—but I just could not. Dr. King taught me to endure despite the injustice although–trust me– it is so much easier to hate.

We have witnessed increasingly in recent times how hate has become the new buzz word. Hate has reared its ugly monstrous head in ways I could have never imagined in my lifetime. Now racism, classism and sexism seem like normal speak and persecution of faith is a rallying cry—why? We have witnessed the continual murder of young black men for minor crimes and oft-times simply for being black while uneducated white men with weapons hold hostage an entire state costing millions of dollars to taxpayers—why the disparity in treatment?

It seems that all of the effort to change the heart of our society is plummeting backwards and hate has refortified its armies.

So tell me–why should I be so kind? How will love do anything for my life?

My mother often tells me the story of how I contracted severe pneumonia as a toddler and none of her neighbors in the Rockwood area would take me to the hospital proclaiming “It’s Sunday we have to go to church.” Sick with worry she ran down the street to the home of a complete stranger–a Klamath Native man who she desperately tried to explain in broken English her baby was very sick. He didn’t need to hear proper English he read the worry in her face and scooped her up in his truck. He transported me to Emanuel Hospital in Portland just in time or I would not have survived a temperature looming past 105.5 and lungs filled with congestion. What compelled Mr. Jackson? Why do some people care—have compassion and others could care less? Why does it seem that those who suffer the most—love so much?

How does being indifferent or biased serve any of us? Really–truly I want to know?

In recent years, we have all witnessed entrusted leaders blatantly lie to our faces after winning our trust, organizations professing justice commit the worst acts of injustice and individuals professing a “special spirituality” take significant emotional and financial advantage of good hard working people. These are people who ask us to trust them and to some degree love them.

Love encompasses trust and when your trust has been violated over and over again –why love? Love just does not make any sense whatsoever.

Perhaps that is the point—there is no logic to love at all. Loving takes incredible strength and love requires insurmountable courage. To love once– requires fortitude but to love over and over and over again despite what you have been through, what you have endured or what you face requires unusual strength and fortitude. Love makes absolutely no logical sense whatsoever but love is our only hope.

I believe in love because I have experienced love of the most profound kind. I am the proud mother of three incredibly brilliant and kind African American, Japanese and Native young gentlemen—I worry about their safety every single day. I could live in fear or anger because I am forced to live in fear or I can choose love. I have to believe that somewhere, sometime—somehow the message of Dr. King’s life will reach more than those who have suffered and faced injustice. I have to believe that somehow that even in the hardest of hearts that love will prevail past ignorance, fear and privilege. If I lose that hope—I too– will succumb to hate and that is just too expensive of a price for me to pay for a life inspired by love. I would rather live a life of love, even love that makes no logical sense than to live in fear, bitterness and hate.

I cannot allow myself to be imprisoned by hatred and I am writing this to encourage you to set yourself free from the shackles of hate.

I want my three sons and the children and grandchildren you love– to enjoy a better world, a place where human beings can coexist in peace, in joy and yes—in love. There is no material treasure you can buy or acquire that is more valuable or precious than love. Love empowers us to be better, to do better and become better—actually it compels is to become the best we can be. Love propels us to find cures for diseases afflicting humankind and compels us to forgive and find ways to communicate in peace—Love is our only hope.

On this anniversary and celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,—I recommit myself to love, no matter what the challenge no matter what the injustice. I recommit myself to become the most loving person I can become so that my brief existence on this planet will indeed make a difference for the better.

This beloved is my heart and this is my prayer.
Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato

(c) Elizabeth Asahi Sato, Rise to Excellence

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches


“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

‪#‎love‬ ‪#‎strengthtolove‬ ‪#‎Dr‬.MartinLutherKingJr

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One Comment

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