Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Words of Wisdom From Beyond the Grave

"The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around." -- Martin Luther King Jr., April 3, 1968.  

"As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that 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. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent." -- Martin Luther King, Jr., 4 April 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City 


“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” 

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” 

“Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.”

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

“You must be the change that you want to see in the world.”

"Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as [Gandhi] ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth"

".... I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived -- yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace.

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children -- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women -- not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by 11 of the Allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use the is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles -- which can only destroy and never create -- is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.

I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war -- and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task....

Let us reexamine our attitude toward the Soviet Union.... No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue.... For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."  

Related: JFK on Secret Societies