Daily prompt-Wind. — My valiant soul

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/wind/ In the merriful grinning lush green fields,I remember how you held my hand,the sister’s love is joyous of all,they said; My white frock laced with frill matched all the dirt,you still held my hand, we went comic together; We kissed the beaming sunshine on each other’s forehead,promised to laugh together till the heartbeat would […]

via Daily prompt-Wind. — My valiant soul

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MLK – Letter Every Bit as Inspiring as His Famous Speech

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martin-luther-king-jrMany years ago, I read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written by Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963, the year I was born. I wanted to read it again this weekend in honor and reflection of MLK day. (Isn’t it amazing that I can type MLK, and it is likely that most in our nation, and even throughout the world, will know that these are the initials of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?) So today, re-reading his letter, I was again inspired and awestruck by what an extraordinary writer he was.

His thoughts and expression on the subject of civil disobedience, just and unjust laws, prejudice and oppression, social analysis, faith, hope and love are still so universally relevant in this present day as we confront war, horrific acts of violence, and social and economic prejudice. Dr. King wrote this letter as a response to a statement released by eight of his fellow Alabama clergyman who accused him of being an extremist. He was in a Birmingham jail as he drafted this letter on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared, continued it on scraps of writing paper, and finished it on a pad of paper that his attorneys were eventually permitted to leave with him. He did polish and wordsmith it before it was actually published.

My favorites quotes, and there are many, (so feel free to selectively read) are listed below, but not necessarily in the order that they were written in the letter. Dr. King’s writing demonstrates his vast knowledge of history, philosophy, sociology, and classical literature. This long letter (perhaps the longest published letter of Dr. King) includes passages that read like an eloquent legal brief, sound like a persuasive closing argument to a jury, contain gripping narrative from a master storyteller, express the heartache of a parent, make an impassioned plea and a call to action, and ultimately, inspire. The pace and rhythm of his writing, the use of similes and metaphors, the conviction, the complexity, yet simplicity and directness are amazing. Dr. King’s voice, both spoken and written, changed our world and remains a gift for all.

On Injustice and Social Analysis

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

“I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.”

On Freedom and Oppression

“Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture, but as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.”

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

“We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters, when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to distort her personality be developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by inner fears and outer resentments’ when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.”

On Just and Unjust Laws

“’How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws; just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is not law at all.’”

“Now what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an ‘I-it’ relationship for an ‘I-thou’ relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things.”

“Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.”

“One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

“Of course there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.”

On Taking Action

“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. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

On Hope for the Future

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities; and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

On Recognizing Real Heroes

“One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: ‘My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby brining our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

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