Monday, January 18, 2010

In Recognition of MLK, Jr.

EDITED TO ADD: Just caught this on NPR... a newly discovered, previously not heard or transcripted speech from Dr. King! I hope the transcript is made available very soon.
There is no preaching I can do that will match the words of a man as great, as humble, as spiritual as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His words, his mission, his work has continued on but is still very hauntingly relevant to today. Instead, I would just like to encourage you to do some reading, some learning, some listening. Maybe your knowledge of MLK, Jr is just what you learned in school... maybe you wonder why there is a day dedicated to this man in the first place. He was a minister. Read his sermon "Paul's Open Letter to American Christians." From Nov, 1956 but surprisingly relelvant to the same arguments we have today. Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood. So America, I would urge you to keep your moral advances abreast with your scientific advances. You can work within the framework of democracy to bring about a better distribution of wealth. You can use your powerful economic resources to wipe poverty from the face of the earth. God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. God intends for all of his children to have the basic necessities of life, and he has left in this universe "enough and to spare" for that purpose. The tragedy is not so much that you have such a multiplicity of denominations, but that most of them are warring against each other with a claim to absolute truth. This narrow sectarianism is destroying the unity of the Body of Christ. You must come to see that God is neither a Baptist nor a Methodist; He is neither a Presbyterian nor a Episcopalian. God is bigger than all of our denominations. If you are to be true witnesses for Christ, you must come to see that America. Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, December 10, 1964 I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.
His final speech... given the day before his assassination. I See The Promised Land. Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

And just in case you've never listened to the entire speech, never read each word... take a few minutes to listen to I Have A Dream. And then stop and think about how the dream still applies today... how there is still inequality, disparity, pain and suffering... and think about what you can individually do to make the world a better place... even if just for one person... to be the positive changes you want to see in the world... to be a small ripple that just might build to a giant wave.


michelle said...

Still completely relevant. I'm not sure if I feel inspired and optimistic or overwhelmed by a sense of futility.

It may just be the human condition and therefore always and forever relevant. I'd like to think we might overcome one day.

Thank you for providing these words this morning

Teacher Tom said...

Every day we are bending the arc of moral history towards justice. It's hard to see it every day, but have faith it's bending.

Thanks Liz!

Shannon said...

I have always thot I believed and supported equality among all people skin color, religion, preference and presentation. But I had to give up my previous life as privileged white, anglo-saxon, protestant male for a life of an older woman, a lesbian and transsexual at that. Civil rights are more dear to me now.

Nancy C said...

Another nudge. I keep getting nudges to do more, be more, care more.
And here's another.

No accident, I daresay.