Monday, January 19, 2009

It isn't over

Every year on Dr. King's birthday I read from a book of his speeches and essays. This is part of what I read this morning. Tomorrow will be a momentous day, but do not be fooled into thinking that having our first African-American president means that we have arrived. Dr. King's work is not done. When I read this, I know that there is hope. None of us knows where we are headed, but there is hope.

I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life which surrounds him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.

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 good will will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that we shall overcome.

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.

(from Dr. King's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, December 10, 1964; published in A Testament of Hope, HarperCollins Publishers, 1986)

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful excerpt. Thanks for sharing these grounding words on this day of rememberance and hope. I choose to view tomorrow as the beginning of a new era firmly set in ideals fought for since the beginning of our nation by people such as MLK, Jr. and President Obama. Hallelujah.


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