Friday, January 13, 2012

Heading into the weekend...

The holidays have come and gone, and I lived up to the pledge I make to myself every year to not write about politics during that time. But given all the election-year brouhahas that are going on, my political opining will be ramping up.

Not just yet, however, because first I am going to turn my brain off and enjoy the weekend. We will be camping in the woods of North Florida and relishing what the forecast says will be perfect weather: Clear skies, lows in the 30's, highs in the 60's.

Tomorrow I will turn 41. The following day, Martin Luther King, Jr., would be turning 83 if he had not been slain by an assassin's bullet. For years now, I have taken advantage of how close our birthdays are by going on trips over the long weekend. For Erika and I, these trips are how we celebrate my birthday, but I never forget why the long weekend exists...so here are some of my favorite passages from MLK's writings and speeches:


Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law…This would lead to anarchy…I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country.

...I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.

There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.

The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo…If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.

Death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates it to more lofty significance. Death is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads man into life eternal.

I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. The note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

…we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.

A man can’t sit on your back unless it’s bent.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: (1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive, (2) negotiation, (3) self-purification, and (4) direct action.

…right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

…I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are presently misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom…If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

If I have said anything in this letter that is an overstatement of the truth and is indicative of an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything in this letter that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of my having a patience that makes me patient with anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me. I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader, but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all of their scintillating beauty.

5 comments:

Fred Alton said...

A fantastic message which still has relevance today. I especially liked "The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo…If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century."

Hope your time of relaxation is all positive and you stay safe.

Fred Alton said...

A fantastic message which still has relevance today. I especially liked "The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo…If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century."

Hope your time of relaxation is all positive and you stay safe.

Barb said...

Happy 41st John! I hope you, Erica, Sarah, and Parker have a wonderful weekend. Bundle up though - that sounds chilly for FL! I enjoyed reading DR King's words.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi John, Happy Birthday... You could 'almost' be my son. I have a son who will be 42 on Sunday (15th)... Then I have another one who will be 41 in May...

Have a wonderful time camping in the woods in North FL... Sounds awesome... We all need to get away from some of the political crap at times... Otherwise, it just eats us up....

Have fun and Happy Birthday. Thanks for sharing some of MLK... Awesome.
Betsy

DocSmith'sGrandaughter said...

Happy Birthday John!

Great post....One of few holidays that should receive more attention.

While all of the quotes are great, today, my favorite must be "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity"-MLK

Ashley