To understand the courage of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the risks he took on behalf of civil rights, peace, and social justice. it is helpful to recognize the moral engagement embodied in all his efforts and eloquently expressed in his speeches. [Continued from January 16, 2017.)
Engaging in morally principled reasoning: “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.”
Realistic language/ Telling it like it is: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Addressing consequences of violence: “That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”
Identifying better alternatives: “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… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”
Moral agency/accepting responsibility: “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.”
And the greatest of these is moral agency. That is the force that moved MLK and other great moral leaders in their pursuit of peace and social justice. It will carry hearts and souls significantly further and shore up mental and physical health in a far more lasting way than will hatred and vengeance.