The Radical Words of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.Last week I talked a bit about Martin Luther King Jr. being a radical. Today it seems appropriate to look at some of his radical words.

On love vs. hate:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

On nonviolence:

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” (Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964)

On the eternal vs. the temporal:

“Each of us lives in two realms, the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live. These include the house we live in, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, the economic sources we acquire—the material stuff we must have to exist. There is always a danger that we will permit the means by which we live to replace the ends for which we live, the internal to become lost in the external.” (Strength to Love)

On something to die for:

“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” (June 23, 1963 speech in Detroit)

On breaking the cycle of evil:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … . The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” (Strength to Love)

On war and peace:

Man’s proneness to engage in war is still a fact, but wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete.

If we assume that life is worth living, that man has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative. In a day when guided ballistic missiles carve highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can claim victory in war. A so-called limited war will leave little more than a calamitous legacy of human suffering, political turmoil and political disillusionment. …

It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must shift the arms race into the peace race. …

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. (from “The Peace Race”)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.