Monday, January 16, 2017


From “Where Do We Go from Here?,” Martin Luther King’s last presidential address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, August 16, 1967:

When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World (New York: HarperCollins, 1992).
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929.

comments: 6

Chris said...

There's another interesting King quote that's making the rounds at the moment (it's from Letter from a Birmingham Jail).

"I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: 'All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.' Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.

Michael Leddy said...

I think I should have quoted that passage instead. It was the word despair that drew me to the passage I quoted.

Michael Leddy said...

(Back from a walk.) Perhaps a way to make sense of the two passages is to put emphasis on the “moral” of “moral universe.” In other words, not a neutral idea of time but a world informed by a force for good. For King, of course, that means a divine force. But I think too of Steven Pinker’s argument that we’ve become a less violent species over time. I have to admit that the passage about time as neutral, to be used by human beings for good or ill, is much more my sense of things.

Fresca said...

The MLK quote from Chris (thanks!) and your reply about the neutrality of time reminds me of this quote I like from LOTR:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

I find this heartening---no point wishing I lived in another time. I just have to decide WHAT TO DO in this one.
Even trying to stay out of it is some sort of-- hm, "decision" doesn't seem the right word for that... but some sort of "decision by default"?
But there is no staying out of it, really.

Michael Leddy said...

No, no staying out. No ostrich hats!

Fresca said...