i have a hard time with this holiday. celebrating the vision of this man who was assassinated for bringing his beautiful dream to us all. celebrating this vision in a world where most of us reject beloved community every day. this day can make me feel cynical sometimes, about how we like the idea but we are so challenged at living up to our own dreams.
the part of myself that dreams and stays hopeful sometimes feels battered by the hypocrisy of symbolic days and/or months of honoring people who we seem to work against in our own actions…i am disappointed in myself, in us as the generations who say we are picking up his dream, still stuck in our own militaristic and imperialistic daily practices.
but, “there can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
what shakes me out of this martin melancholy is returning to his words – his shifts, his changes, his patience. he reminds me to keep my hope, keep a deeper faith in a safe place, a faith beyond what i can or will see, a faith that let’s me be a part of humanity, instead of my hopeless individual self.
so here are some of my favorite of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words:
Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.
It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.
A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.
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.
All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.
Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
We must use time creatively.