An MLK Day Quote

An MLK Day Quote January 16, 2012

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: ‘This is not just.’ It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: ‘This is not just.’ The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” 

Speech at Riverside Church, April 4, 1967

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  • Julia Smucker

    Martin Luther King, Prophet of Nonviolence, pray for us!
    That may not be technically canonical, but it is consistent with the spirit of something my RCIA director once said: “There are a couple of people I know who, if they’re not in heaven, the rest of us are in a hell of a lot of trouble.”

  • Cindy

    “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr….

  • Paul B

    Julia, well said, I’ve always found it rather absurd to think that persons of heroic virtue are invariably Roman Catholic.

  • Wow. Obviously his role in ending segregation and the acceptability of racism was incredible, but why isn’t THIS stuff mentioned more often?

    Imagine if he’d lived for even a decade more…

  • bill bannon

    He may very well be in heaven if he repented of infidelity in marriage which Rev. Ralph Abernathy attested to in a book….

    If he did not repent, then no….he’s elsewhere. One hopes God takes final good actions as an implied repentance in millions of cases wherein people have a mix in their life of wonderful choices and bad….e.g. Angelina Jolie.

    • Mark Gordon

      No need to use Angelina Jolie as your example. Use me instead.

      • Bless you, Mark.

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

        Who among us has not mixed in bad choices along with the good?

    • Paul DuBois

      As far as Dr. Kings position in heaven, I will spend my time worrying about my position in heaven. What does disturb me is the need to point to the weakness of great men to distract from their greatness. It should not come as a shock to us that Dr. King was a sinful man, we all are. Look at the sinfulness of almost all of the great figures of the bible. It was not that Jesus forgave sins that shocked the Jews of his time, or that he associated with past sinners. It was that he associated with current sinners and thereby hoped to redeem them that was scandalous.
      Dr. King was a great man! His teachings are well worth listening to and learning from! But they point to teachings far greater. Even though I have great respect for him, we only have 1 savior! I think Dr. Kings saying show this and his sayings and actions show that he was always looking to him and moving in his direction. Fact that he, like most of us, would not reach perfection until after the purification of Purgatory, should not detract from what we can learn from him.