Martin Luther King’s Philosophy & Ethics

Today America remembers the life of Martin Luther King. His principles, philosophy, and ethics should be celebrated and emulated every day.

They form the backbone of a man who simply wanted to make our planet more civilized, fair, kinder, and better for all humans. Dr. King’s life reminds us of the importance of ethics and faith in our personal and business lives.

The King Philosophy is powerful and applicable in all facets of our lives. Let us discuss and review his Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change.

1) Information gathering: To understand and articulate an issue, problem or injustice facing a person, community, or institution you must do research. You must investigate and gather all vital information from all sides of the argument or issue so as to increase your understanding of the problem. You must become an expert on your opponent’s position.

*All too often in business and in our personal lives, we fail to gather all the facts and choose to see things through our own lenses. Dr. King reminds us that self-awareness and knowledge is essential to problem solving.

2) It is essential to inform others, including your opposition, about your issue. This minimizes misunderstandings and gains you support and sympathy.

*Many times in my career I have witnessed an unwillingness to “lay your cards down on the table.” Telling it like it is without sugarcoating issues forms a foundation for truth to take hold. If you believe in an issue or cause, tell others about it. Ethics is the foundation of who we are and what we value.

3) Daily check and affirm your faith in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. Eliminate hidden motives and prepare yourself to accept suffering, if necessary, in your work for justice.

*For humans to effectively communicate and interact, transparency and honesty is essential. There is no place for violence, no place for bullying, no place for intimidation, and certainly no place for self-serving and arrogant people.

4) Using grace, humor and intelligence, confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices. Look for what is positive in every action and statement the opposition makes. Do not seek to humiliate the opponent but to call forth the good in the opponent.

*Dr. King paves the way for us to fairly solve problems. It requires the use of respect, consideration, and courtesy for others. It involves building solutions with others that looks and feel like consensus. While no easy feat in our personal and business lives, grace and humility travel forever.

5) Direct action takes place when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in, discussion/negotiation. These actions impose a “creative tension” into the conflict, supplying moral pressure on your opponent to work with you in resolving the injustice.

*How many times have you heard the phrase “do the right thing.” Regardless of the business situations we encounter, it is essential to communicate what our values are. Doing the right thing is simply an action step that derives from our moral compasses. Resolution of conflicts cannot take place without both parties appreciating mutual values and working through them.

6) Reconciliation: Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Nonviolence does not seek to defeat the opponent. Nonviolence is directed against evil systems, forces, oppressive policies, unjust acts, but not against persons.

*All too often in our organizations, ethics is missing and replaced by toxic leaders, policies, and conditions. Dr. King reminds us that while people are the core of all problems, they are also the solutions to make changes for the better.

Martin Luther King was a hero to many past and present. He is a deserving icon and symbol of what is civil discourse.

His legacy is large and his teachings grand.

My friends please remember this: respect, consideration, and courtesy matter a lot. Treat others fairly, decently, and equally.

Build your moral compasses carefully and always monitor them daily.

You know the battle cry: do your best each day. No one can ask more or less from any of us.

All the best/blessings, Mark


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