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Love, Power, and Justice

January 21, 2013

Photo of Dr. Martin Luther KingPower at its best

is love implementing the demands of justice,

and justice at its best

is love correcting everything that stands against love.

“What happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites – polar opposites – so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love.

It was this misinterpretation that caused Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject the Nietzschean philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love.

Now, we’ve got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.

Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

— The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

4 Comments

Aprilflower January 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Wow that’s a really good quote. I love it.

Karla January 26, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Me too – I love that love is such a powerful concept in his ideology. It’s not just being a sweetie — it’s standing up and acting decisively and compassionately for justice. This form of love includes all of the emotions, and especially healthy anger. Excellent.

Gnanasekaran February 19, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Thanks for your wonderful explanation. The effects of power without love will have more negative effects, especially towards the individual and to those under his or her power, than the effects of love without power on the individual and his or her contacts.
To an individual without any power or authority over others, is it necessary to have a love with power?
For being a Christian, when we say power in the context of christian love, what does this power mean?

Karla February 19, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Hello!~ These are koans!

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