Solidarity with the poor requires taking on the government. Bill Coffin writes:

In the 1990s, both the Million Man March and the Promise-Keepers let the political order off the hook. Theirs was a purely spiritual message that just happened to parallel the anti-government message of the Republicans. By contrast, Martin Luther King Jr. led the 1963 March on Washington and later the Poor People’s March to confront the government, to put the government on notice… in a free society ‘some are guilty but all are responsible’… In short, it is not enough to be a Good Samaritan, not when, from Philadelphia to East Oakland, whole communities lie bleeding in the ditch. What the poor need today is not piecemeal charity but wholesale justice.[1]

Coffin claims when we lessen our anger at injustice we lessen our love for the people. Jesus loved the exploited of his day and lashed out at their comfortable oblivious exploiters. Anger at injustice is a hallmark of the prophets. We have the responsibility to speak the truth. If we don’t witness to the crudeness and brutality of our society, which disregards the homeless, poor, hungry, and dispossessed, who will?

For Martin Luther King, Christ’s innocent suffering is the key to understanding the Crucifixion’s saving power. It’s also the key to conquering social evils. Unmerited suffering, like the Crucifixion, brings “to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purpose of the heart” (1 Corinthians 4:5). King believed willingness to suffer in order to expose injustice is the deepest form of love.

[1] Coffin, The Heart Is A Little to the Left, 17, 19, 21.