Sunday, March 23, 2003
It seems, from various reports and initial commentary by a wide range of media this Sunday morning, that we Americans, like so many of our fine and brave young soldiers, are experiencing the fog of war as what appears to be a bloody week dawns. Despite the inexperienced assurances of the Vice President and his clique of neoconservatives, war, by its very nature, can never be easy or surgical.
A time comes when silence is betrayal. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do do easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.
Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of he night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls"enemy", for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered...
We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.
Now let us benign. Now let us rededicate ourselves in the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Excerpts from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, JR. delivered at Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967