19 January 2009

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929 - 1968

Nearly a decade ago, my friend Grace Harwood sent out the above card in honor of Dr. King, commemorating the brave stance he took against the VietNam War, for which he was vilified. With her kind permission, I reprint it here.

From Dr. King's speech of April 4, 1967:

"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

"We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. 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 begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history."

For those of you who don't read Italian, the St. Francis prayer in English:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, and a timeless piece of writing because it still rings true today--but maybe tomorrow will now be better.


Mugsy Peabody said...

One hopes. It always amazes me that San Francisco lived in the 13th Century!

iris said...

Today is the tomorrow we've been waiting for. The "we" that is One.

The march to Selma began with the decision to take a first step towards it. Our today begins the same way especially with this Monday and Tuesday.

Blessings to your Grace.

Anonymous said...

So beautiful in any language. I have the English version framed on a wall in my bedroom for those days when I wake up and do not know what to do. It is a lovely reminder that I have a mission, however obscure it may seem at times. You are lucky to know Grace!

Elizabeth Bennett

Mugsy Peabody said...

Thank you, Elizabeth!

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