For the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Portrait of MLK Jr, by Betsy Reyneau, care of Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve been bad. I know I have. You see that “Quote of the Week” section on the blog and you think, “Hey, that Chris guy, he gives us great quotes each week…” But I’ve not been keeping up. The poems have been flowing, but each week when the time comes around to drop the weekly quotes, they seem to slip right out of my remembering. Bad Chris.

Well this week I’m getting back into the habit, and what better day to do that with than Martin Luther King Day?

MLK is a tragic and inspirational tale for us all – a man that pushed society to the brink, moved a nation with his words, and gave hope where before there had been little. He was but one face and voice in a movement crowded with them, but his is the one we most often hear echoing through the halls of time – reminding, humbling. A clergyman, activist, and leader in the stylings of Mahatma Gandhi, King was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Born on January 15, 1929, he energized the civil rights movement both before and after his assassination on April 4, 1968, at just 39-years-old. He was a Christian man, and a colorblind one; he opposed war, and fought to end poverty.

The man, the inspiration, the paragon of peace and advancement that was Martin Luther King Jr. was a master orator, and writer, and so today, I would like to share with you a few of his words. At the bottom you will also find a video of his legendary speech: “I have a Dream,” as well as the news broadcast from CBS’s Walter Cronkite that aired on the night of his murder. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be sitting there that night and suddenly be greeted with such a thing…even if King himself had predicted it. Even if he’d known.

So please, as this day passes you by, take some time to reflect on what this man once said, and on the messages he preached, which still ring as true today as they ever did, and ever shall, so long as man draws breath upon this earth.

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars…Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

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Dead Mementos

Statistics say that Death

came on in great demand–

and all the reels roll on

into the grim decree–

such madness in the flames,

the ponderous flight of man and steel

bidden, but unbound

could never be contained

by evil deep as soul was black–

but paper burns in fires bright

and names reduced to numbers

are lost beneath the ashes.

Memory is sifting through the dust

for dignity forgotten

by madder men than we.

The Dogs of War

can never be forgotten–

but the blood of the fallen

may never yet be found.

Screams echo through the halls

of history befouled

for all the lives we lost

and all the identities

we never may regain.

To make a Mark…

“Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” ~Barack Obama

“If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.” ~Alex Noble