Martin Luther King's teachings stand at the core of the strong foundation of America. Today, terrorism, war and recession are seeping in, cracking that foundation and eroding civil rights and civil liberties. And while the teachings of Dr. King came many years ago, they are especially relevant to us today as we struggle with painful losses and difficult questions about the future of America.
President Bush announces almost daily that the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan will lead to justice. Although there may be no other realistic options at this stage of this particular conflict, Dr. King¹s teachings encouraging non-violence give us an idea of what lies ahead if our leaders aren¹t especially careful in managing the war and its aftermath.
In a sermon Dr. King delivered on November 6, 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama, he said, "As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos"(King).
The debate over what caused the attacks of September 11 may continue for decades. What¹s important for President Bush, Attorney General Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to remember is that what they do now and in the near future will have serious ramifications for their children and grandchildren, as well as ours.
Dr. King believed that violence begets violence in an endless cycle. As he stated in a sermon delivered on November 17, 1957 in Montgomery, Alabama,...
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...not approach with short-sightedness, hate and anger clouding our minds. We must go forward with Dr. King¹s words in our hearts and at the core of our actions.
In his acceptance speech for his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King said, "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality"(King).
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bennett, Lerone. What Manner of Man. A Biography of Martin Luther King Jr. NewYork: Johnson, 1964.
King, Martin Luther Jr. A Testament of Hope: the essential writings and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.. Ed. James Melvin Washington. New York: Harper, 1991.
Ingram, Debbie in "Why Do Justice?" The Newsletter of Evangelicals Concerned Western Region September 1995.
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