Jan 9, 2013

Who Inspires Me?

1/09/2013 — cori

He was 39 when he died.  The same age as I am.  What a legacy he's left.  

Over the past several months I've been studying the teachings, sermons, essays and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I'm embarrassed to say that I never learned about him in school growing up.  That saddens me.  He's a man that not only was able to speak with simple clarity but with profound conviction.  He was not only intelligent, but wise.

He lived what he believed and it cost him his life.  He didn't only believe that there should be justice for the oppressed, he lived amongst the oppressed and made their concerns his concerns.  He didn't only believe in non-violence, he lived a life of peace in the midst of violence.  He didn't only believe in loving your neighbor, he went to jail for them.  He didn't only believe in justice, he dedicated his life to pursuing it on behalf of the oppressed.

He not only took a stand for equality for African Americans but also for theological and political positions that weren't popular in his own denomination. He chose to love instead of hate those who persecuted him even though his house was bombed 3 times, he was imprisoned unjustly 19 times, he was almost fatally stabbed and endured daily death threats.  He didn't live to please people, he lived to serve God.  May I have the courage to live the same.

The following are some quotes that have inspired me the past few months and have helped give a voice to convictions I've held and was never able to express.

Loving Our Enemies:
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.  We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity.  By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up.  Love transforms with redemptive power.

To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering.  We shall meet your physical force with soul force.  Do to us what you will and we shall continue to love you.....But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer.  One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves.  We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.

We shall never be cured of fear by escapism or repression, for the more we attempt to ignore and repress our fears, the more we multiply our inner conflicts.

This would be an unbearable world were God to have only a single light, but we may be consoled that God has two lights: a light to guide us in the brightness of the day when hopes are fulfilled and circumstances are favorable, and a light to guide us in the darkness of the midnight when we are thwarted and slumbering giants of gloom and hopelessness rise in our souls.

You must come to see that a man may be self centered in his self denial and self righteous in his self sacrifice.  His generosity may feed his ego and his piety his pride.  Without love, benevolence becomes egotism and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.

The ultimate measure of a man is not wehre he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

We must remember that intelligence is not enough.  Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

Within the wide arena of everyday life we see evil in all of its ugly dimensions.  We see it express in tragic lust and inordinate selfishness.  We see it in high places where men are willing to sacrifice truth on their alters of self-interest.  We see it in imperialistic nations crushing other people with the battering rams of social injustice.  We see it clothed in the garments of calamitous wars which leave men and nations morally and physically bankrupt.

Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.  It is a sword the heals.

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