The Daredevil and MLK

Thanks to Netflix, I’m addicted to Marvel’s “Daredevil” series. I’ve been watching it since the 2016 election, and love the theological and ethical dilemmas is wrestles with, as well as the action sequences and characters.

I think about how Daredevil wrestles with how to respond to the evils in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen without becoming the very thing he’s fighting against. Though he never kills, he responds with violence to the violence and injustice that plague his neighborhood.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaches, I’ve been reacquainting myself with MLK’s teachings on nonviolent social change—and especially on something called The Beloved Community.

The Beloved Community is the goal, after all. Not simply being right, or being just, but a new community made of new relationships on a new basis.

The Beloved Community is a global vision in which every person can share in the wealth of resources available on earth, international standards of human decency hold, and the spirit of inclusion pervades group life, the arrangement of society, and social and economic decisions.

But the most revolutionary thing is this: the Beloved Community has a role for conflict. At every level—interpersonal, group or international—conflict is recognized as an inevitable part of the human condition.

It’s how we respond to conflict and resolve it that can either knit us closer together, or tear us decisively apart.

If Daredevil were to see how violent means of dealing with perpetrators only begets more violence, I think he’d stop beating people up, and things would get better.

But then Marvel wouldn’t have a storyline anymore.

That’s why taking violent means off the conflict-resolution table is essential to building The Beloved Community—breaking the cycle of victim-aggressor, in which victims become aggressors and perpetrators of violence.

Here in the Cities, the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute trains people on the effects of trauma and their role in the victim-aggressor cycle. As people and groups become trauma-aware, they choose non-violent means to resolve conflict rather than passing the scourge of violence to the next person or generation.

In King’s Sermon on Gandhi in 1959, he said that when you choose nonviolence in responding to injustice, “When the battle’s over, a new relationship comes into being between the oppressed and the oppressor….The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”

For more on building the Beloved Community now, see The New Poor People’s Campaign online.

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