Matt J. Duffy :: Thoughts on Journalism, Culture, and Global Communication

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Dr. Matt J. Duffy teaches journalism, media ethics and international communication law. His research focuses on journalism and media laws in the Middle East. Duffy's book "Media Laws of the United Arab Emirates" was published in 2014 by Wolters Kluwer. His academic work has been published in the Journal of Middle East Media, the Journal of Mass Media Ethics, and the Newspaper Research Journal. He received a Ph.D. in Public Communication from Georgia State University in the United States where he studied the use of unnamed sources in journalism. Duffy is board member of the Arab-United States Association for Communication Educators, an organization that aims to improve journalism in the Middle East. He teaches international communication law at Kennesaw State University.

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Martin Luther King on the value of forgiveness

posted on January 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm
Martin Luther King, Jr.

President Lyndon Johnson shakes hands with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. (Source: Flikr, some rights reserved)

 

For his birthday, I offer this excerpt of his writings on forgiveness, penned from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama. He was non-violently protesting the treatment of black people in the segregated South:

First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one’s enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us. It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer may request forgiveness. He may come to himself, and, like the prodigal son, move up some dusty road, his heart palpitating with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbor, the loving father back home, can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words “I will forgive you, but I’ll never forget what you’ve done” never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, “I will forgive you, but I won’t have anything further to do with you.” Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again.

Without this, no man can love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.

As someone who carried around resentments for the first three decades of my life, forgiveness has certainly worked well for me. May we all consider its value a little more as we ponder King’s impact on the world.

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