Martin Luther King, Jr. On Complacency #MLK

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.

Christians and Integrity

It really is gratifying to know that there are conservative Christians out there with integrity. It gives me hope that we can find common ground, that some of them are critical thinkers instead of brain-washed zombies (Oops! Did I say that out loud?).

This week, over 200 students and faculty at Brigham Young University protested Dick Cheney’s upcoming commencement speech at the school. Apparently, they are asserting that he is not a good role model for today’s youth because he lied about the WMDs in Iraq in order to support going to war.

I am increasingly heartened by the fact that more and more conservative Christians are starting to think. They are starting to realize that they have been used as a political football. There are many who are starting to realize that there are more important issues than the ones that divide the nation. There are many moral issues on which all of us can unite and agree.

David Kuo is the perfect example. In his book Tempting Faith, Kuo speaks out about the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration and its lack of commitment to end poverty in this country. He was a White House insider working with President Bush on “faith-based initiatives,” and reports in his book that Republicans were really only interested in working with Christians in order to out law abortion rights and civil rights for queers. Kuo’s priority is economic justice, and he articulated an experience of being ignored, lied to, and promises not being fulfilled.

I think that most intelligent and truly compassionate people at the end of the day can recognize that it is important that a family have food on the table, that a homeless man have a warm and safe bed and an opportunity to go to rehab, that an illiterate adult learn how to read, that senior citizens who live alone be visited, that large corporations be held accountable for the pollution they cause in the communities where they have factories, that we all take responsibility to leave a lighter foot print on the planet so that it will be here for our children tomorrow.

There are issues about which people will likely always disagree, those being about abortion and homosexuality. It is interesting that these very divisive issues are about very private and personal matters. I think that perhaps as Christians, whether progressive or conservative, if we focus on the issues that effect all of us in the same way, finding common moral ground will be easier and our priorities clearer.

This may be a total pipe dream. I run from conservative Christians. I don’t know how to talk to them. They scare me. Really. They freak me out. I admit, I’m rather intolerant, and maybe even prejudiced. But I am interested in finding common ground. I’m committed to learning about what informs conservative Christian politics and seeing where there may be intersections. It’s my faith, too, and perhaps part of my effort to reclaim it will involve an effort to understand more about Christians whose politics are so different from my own.