Today is the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr‘s birthday is observed. So I thought it appropriate to look back on some of his words, see if we learned the lessons he was trying to teach.
“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.”
Could he have meant a weak-willed sheep mentality that allows an incremental takeover due to apathy? Or the death of the soul due to not fighting back against evil?
“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
Protesting injustices that are against natural rights, such as the right of equal oppurtunity, and life?
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Wise words, still so true today, it applies to more than the Civil Rights Era.
“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
A favorite, I don’t give a damn about what color, orientation, etc. that people are. I don’t judge by whether you wear name-brand or hand me downs. Inked and pierced to clean cut and in a suit. I wait until I have engaged you in lengthy conversation before I form an opinion.
“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
Just because its a law, doesn’t make it right. That is for you to examine and decide. Remember that the next time a lawmaker says it’s for your own good.
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
Love this one about what I interpret as the danger of “useful idiots“.
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. “
A sad, sad, truth
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Thomas Paine said something similar, “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.” And both are so true. You can run off at the mouth but when the ball drops, then the truth comes out.
“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”
So think your actions through, going off half-cocked helps no one.
A wise revolutionary, MLK was. Sad that he was taken from the world, but his lessons still stand today. In a time of institutionalized racism and bigotry he stood against it, not with violence and bullets, but with persuasion and ideas. He showed a nation that it’s what’s inside a person that counts, not the outside, where they were born or who they were related to. That is an honorable legacy.