Wisdom for the Ages (Ours in Particular): Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

America today is in crisis.  Apart from the relentless COVID epidemic, crisis spawned by divisions.  First and foremost, divisions due to our current political differences.  But, also, divisions, that is, manufactured disunity, among race, gender, religion, national origin, etc., all of which have been purposely instilled, encouraged, and perpetuated by opposition forces (i.e., those opposed to democracy, capitalism, the Constitution as written, and the rule of law).  Calls from D.C. for national unity, if in fact they are at all sincere, fall on deaf ears as the physical and mental strains of the past year will be slow to ease.  The gaps in our divisions right now are simply too extreme to overcome with mere talk and policy pandering. It will take time and genuine inspired leadership, whether from an Oval Office teleprompter, lectern, pulpit or other sources of hoped-for public understanding and comfort.

The one great American, were he yet alive today, who could so effectively have helped close those division gaps, is the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.  A native of Georgia, this amazing, compassionate man taught us to look first to a person’s character, rather than the color of his or her skin.  His superbly intelligent wisdom echoes in our midst still today.  And, particularly, today with all of the dissention and broken trust that seems to consume us.  As such, it seemed like the right time to look back and share but a few examples of his ever-brilliant truth-for-the-ages advice.

Dr. King wrote and spoke the following:

“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.  The foundation of such a method is love.”

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.  He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.  There is some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us.  When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“Rarely do we find men (and women) who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking.  There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions.  Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

“People fail to get along because they fear each other.  They fear each other because they don’t know each other.  They don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“I’m not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right, that is good.”

“Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake.  Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but one must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind.  The time is always right to do the right thing.”

“If you can’t fly, then run.  If you can’t run, then walk.  If you can’t walk, then crawl.  But whatever you have to do, you have to keep moving forward.”

Those elements of Dr. King’s guidance are but a few of his once constant outpouring of useful, accurate wisdom.  As his annual Remembrance Day approaches, we give thanks for his enormously impactful time with us here on earth, and pay special tribute to a great, learned man who truly loved his country and our God.  May this sampling of his deep thoughts provide at least some momentary relief from the concerns and the upheaval currently faced by our nation and the citizenry of America.  Choose solid character.  All else is something less.


(Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. selected quotes via keepinspiring.me, Hannah Hutyra).