This morning I went to Watts Street Baptist Church to hear Tim Tyson preach on “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: Black Power and the Religion of Jesus.” He rocked and I will have more to say about what I learned in another post (or two). But tonight I want to share the MLK quotes included in “A Litany of Rededication” we said together at the close of the service.
“One of the tragedies of humanity’s long trek has been the limiting of neighborly concern to tribe, race, class, or nation. . . . Our world is a neighborhood. We must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters], or we will perish as fools. For I submit, nothing will be done until people put their bodies and souls into this.”
“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than peole, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
“There are some things in our society and in our world to which I’m proud to be maladjusted, to which I call upon all people of good will to be maladjusted, until the good society is realized. I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating efforts of physical violence.”
“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. . . . Sooner or later, all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace. . . . [We] must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. . . . The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing . . . for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names; and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.”
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
I am saddened that these words spoken a half century ago sound as if they were uttered yesterday.