How theme of love is portrayed in the speech, "Loving Your Enemies" by Martin Luther King, Jr.?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For King, the concept of love is critically important.  Love is the tool by which spiritual and social transformation takes place.  Dr. King believes that individuals have the power to change their own sense of self through a concept of self- love, where one's love for self is a representation of dignity and self- worth.  This vision of love is not one that King sees as trading off with another person's vision of self nor is it one that seeks to overtake others.  Rather, it is an assumption of power whereby one feels a sense of self- worth.  This allows the individual to purge out the poisons of hate and resentment and focus on their own dignity.  It is through this concept of love where spiritual transformation happens, as individuals possess a sense of dignity that the outside world, an entity that lacks this concept of love, does not understand.  Through this, Dr. King believes that individuals can be able to look their adversary in the eye and reach their level of humanity, sparking a social change.  The love of which King speaks is one where individuals do not strike back out of retaliation, but rather actively dissent through their presence and their faith in love.  It is so difficult to reach this plane of spiritual existence, to not take the form of the world around an individual and rather transcend it.  Yet, it is here  in this love where King believes that the road to personal and social salvation lies.