Sunday, January 15, 2006

Remembering A Life

I am no expert on Martin Luther King, Jr. and only really came to understand what he did and what his life was all about in the last few years. There are two of his speeches that I love, and no they don't include the "I Have A Dream" speech.

One is the very timely Beyond Vietnam (w/audio link):
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.
I could excerpt the whole thing but just substitute Iraq for every time you see the word Vietnam and you'll see what I mean.

The other is the speech he gave the night before he was murdered, I've Been to the Mountaintop (w/audio excerpt):
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.
He was a truly remarkable man and he changed the course of history in this country. And my favorite quote from him is this, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter". Thank you Martin Luther King for the life you lived.


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