Martin Luther King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence go far beyond the political activism and protest he exemplified. They are a way of life that takes courage to employ on even the most personal and private level.

We are especially moved by Principle Five and its acknowledgement of the violence that can be done to the spirit, unseen but fiercely powerful and pervasive in our time, which so many people we know feel. For King, choosing love instead of hate in even the smallest of interactions is the most powerful antidote we can embrace.


  1. PRINCIPLE ONE: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
    It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
  2. PRINCIPLE TWO: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
    The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.
  3. PRINCIPLE THREE: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people.
    The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil not people.
  4. PRINCIPLE FOUR: Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation.
    Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.
  5. PRINCIPLE FIVE: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body.
    Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.
  6. PRINCIPLE SIX: Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.
    Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.


The photo, at top, was taken by Don Cravens in 1956 after King was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama while protesting the segregation of city buses; he was waiting to have a mug shot taken. Cravens documented the bus boycott over several years, culminating with Rose Parks riding a city bus after the Supreme Court ruled against segregated buses. 

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2 replies on “Martin Luther King, Jr on Resisting Violence to the Spirit

  1. Great article(!).

    I have ‘heard’ about ‘the Principles’,
    but never read them.

    “…spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.”

    i don’t think i have to read any more this year.
    Thanks Sally.

    p.s.: Luckily, i don’t ‘think’,…much (?),
    ….can’t wait to read tomorrow!

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