Martin Luther King
In the 1950's, a young preacher/activist of Montgomery, Alabama, USA, gave the nation the gift of his wisdom. He explained very clearly to all who would listen that the time for violence around the world had passed, and the time for universal justice had arrived. Many listened and have not forgotten, and many more refused to listen, condemned and ignored the man, jailed and abused him, and finally shot him down. But he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace at a time, before it was despoiled by its presentation to Henry Kissinger, when that prize still had meaning. King was not only a spokesperson for racial equality in a society that viciously demeans millions of its own citizens for the "crime" of skin tone, but the man was clearly a prophet for our time, for today, for the twenty-first century. His words, excerpted below, were spoken in 1957. The consequences of violence and the refusal of corporate government to commit to global justice, threaten a suicidal apocalypse for humanity. I suggest that if our families and children are to have a future, we need to revitalize the teaching of Doctor King, and to work hard to carry his thoughts into action.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957
Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one's whole being into the being of another.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution
It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence and the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.
John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms: "No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." And he goes on toward the end to say, "Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." We must see this, believe this, and live by it if we are to remain awake through a great revolution.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., Justice Without Violence- 3 April 1957
Now the question that we face this evening is this: In the light of the fact that the oppressed people of the world are rising up against that oppression; in the light of the fact that the American Negro is rising up against his oppression, the question is this: How will the struggle for justice be waged? And I think that is one of the most important questions confronting our generation. As we move to make justice a reality on the international scale, as we move to make justice a reality in this nation, how will the struggle be waged? It seems to me that there are two possible answers to this question. One is to use the all too prevalent method of physical violence. And it is true that man throughout history has sought to achieve justice through violence. And we all know the danger of this method. It seems to create many more social problems than it solves. And it seems to me that in the struggle for justice that this method is ultimately futile. If the Negro succumbs to the temptation of using violence in his struggle for justice, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate life of bitterness, and his chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. And there is still a voice crying into the vista of time saying to every potential Peter, “Put up your sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations and communities that failed to follow this command.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, M.L.K!