Editor’s note: Salem State University’s annual MLK Jr. Convocation took place Monday, Jan 28. The university held an essay-writing contest for North Shore elementary, middle and high schools, asking students to write about how MLK’s legacy is alive in today’s violent world. The winners in the three categories were invited to read their essays at the convocation. Two of the winning essays were written by students from Salem. Kelsey Currier-Dougherty is from the Saltonstall Elementary School and Anibelys Flores is from Salem High.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Dr. King specifies that only light and love can bring out the positive. Darkness will forever be darkness unless light and love takes its place.
With positive reinforcement and positive dialogue, we learn to fulfill the light and love within our hearts and within the hearts of others. Using negative dialogue will only continue to bring us down, making us less confident in our communities and environment. Not only that, negativity creates violence, enemies, and crimes,which lead to death. In our daily routines we shouldn’t walk around judging each other, we should learn to complement the good and lift spirits up instead of downgrading them.
Over time I’ve learned that at our weakest point it only gets better. Let’s say, if I were in a dark room and I was mad because I never found the light switch to turn on the lights, I’d never open my eyes clearly enough to see what’s in front of me. So I’d hate it, until I found the switch and find what I’ve been looking for, so I can love it. To me Dr. King is saying those exact words; he’s basically saying that if we continue to be blind, we get nowhere. There’s right and there is wrong. It’s a matter of who is willing to love in the light and do right, or else struggle in the darkness and hate and never find what you’re truly looking for.
Violence isn’t an answer. Today we remember the Columbine massacre in Colorado. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris (the shooters) only saw the darkness and hate in life. As for the life style they lived, they thought violence was the answer and you can see, it only brought more violence and darkness. If we the people showed more love and affection, we would have changed the hate in their darkness and strengthened the love and light left behind by the death of Rachael Scott (a victim), a kind, bright person. Her kindness and politeness made many realize that her mark left behind is to teach that darkness doesn’t stomp out darkness. Only love can do that.
She changed many lives in a positive way. Today she inspires the Rachael Challenge, where we as people are able to walk up to someone, even if they are having a bad day or seem to be pushed away by crowds. This gives people the opportunity to improve on communicating and feeling better about one another.
Sometimes, the problems just may be as simple as revenge and envy upon others. Recently, we should still remember the awful Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The darkness of one man caused the love and light of innocent kids to be no longer present. This darkness not only impacted just one adult, but adults around the nation. It took many from the light and brought them to the darkness. However, by remembering the lives of the bright young children, the darkness has been transformed back into light. Eventually we have to understand the true meaning of that, by showering love instead of hate.
It is crucial to not stay focused in anger. We all should stay focused on love. Instead of thinking that their kids are gone, we think whether they would want us to be upset. We all go through really emotional tough times but it should be the love, bringing us back up into the light. No darkness shall ever bring us down, nor shall it bring us hate. It should push us to going in the right direction.
Love is stronger than hate and with a lot of love you can be bright like the light and make a difference within yourself, others, or even our communities. Darkness will forever be dark, because two negatives don’t cancel out. That would be like adding wood to a fire that’s only going to get bigger. At the end only an action can make a difference. If I don’t look for the light, I am not willing to make a change. Light and love or darkness and hate. Which would you choose?
Anibelys Flores is a student at Salem High School.