On this anniversary of the March On Washington for civil rights, I have been looking for some choice quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. One pattern that I have found is his clarity in speaking out on complacency and inaction. Those who do nothing while witnessing injustice and wrong-doing do worse than those who commit acts of injustice. The privileged have a responsibility to do what they know is right.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one’s soul.
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
2 thoughts on “Martin Luther King, Jr. On Complacency #MLK”
Hi Sarah, those are wonderful timeless quotes. In fact, its relevance hits us like a sledgehammer. Than any time in history, today we have access to communication and information which can make a lasting difference on so many important issues, it can make a positive difference in the lives of people who have neither the rights or the luxury which we do. Millions of our global citizens continue to drown in despair, without justice nor freedom. MLK’s words should awaken us to the obligation we all have to those that suffer in silence.
Thanks, Atticus! I appreciate your thoughts. I have seen these quotes many times in different places, but seeing them in one place, his clear message of personal responsibility really struck me.