When I originally posted this, I had thought about writing some of my own words in tribute to the great man. But of course, I am not half the orator or writer that Doctor King was. His words are indelible on the memory, and touching to the soul. Here's a great resource where you can read quotes, and watch or hear his speeches: MLK Online.
And yet though we can remember his words, we often forget the message. There were those who thought that African Americans should fight back against their white oppressors. MLK refused. He firmly believed that violence only begets violence; that hate only begets hate. As I look around at the world more than five years after September 11th, 2001, I see the truth of his message. The unfathomable hatred that was directed at innocent civilians on that day did not spring up fully formed from the mind of any one man. Even though none of this generation is responsible for the coups and acts of terror our own government perpetrated against Middle Eastern countries, we ended up paying the price. And now hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have paid the price, and millions more are suffering because of our "righteous" retribution. In the end, what will it have brought us? More safety? More security? I tell you this, there's only two ways hatred can end: in murder or forgiveness. MLK tried to teach us this lesson, but we've forgotten it time and again. Now there are those who claim that wars and violence are necessary to protect us. MLK disagreed:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.
And the full quote from which Xanthippas drew our page heading quote:
Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.
Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967.