Watching Out: Reflections On Justice And Injustice Free Download UPDATED
But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophetsof theeighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyondthe boundariesof their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carriedthe gospel ofJesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry thegospel offreedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedoniancall foraid.
Watching Out: reflections on justice and injustice free download
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemnedbecause they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this likecondemning a robbedman because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this likecondemningSocrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiriesprecipitated theact by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this likecondemningJesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's willprecipitatedthe evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts haveconsistently affirmed,it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutionalrights because thequest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relationtothe struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. Hewrites: "AllChristians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it ispossible that youare in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years toaccomplishwhat it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stemsfrom a tragicmisconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in thevery flow oftime that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be usedeither destructively orconstructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much moreeffectivelythan have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merelyfor the hatefulwords and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.Humanprogress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless effortsof men willing tobe co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of theforces of socialstagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe todo right.Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending nationalelegy intoa creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from thequicksand of racialinjustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventuallymanifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something withinhasreminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that itcan begained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with hisblackbrothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and theCaribbean, theUnited States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land ofracialjustice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, oneshould readilyunderstand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent upresentmentsand latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayerpilgrimagesto the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. Ifhis repressedemotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence;this is not athreat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of yourdiscontent." Rather, I havetried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creativeoutlet ofnonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as Icontinued tothink about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Wasnot Jesus anextremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them thathate you, andpray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremistfor justice:"Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was notPaul anextremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Wasnot MartinLuther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And JohnBunyan: "I willstay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And AbrahamLincoln:"This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We holdthese truths tobe self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether wewill beextremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or forlove? Will we beextremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In thatdramatic scene onCalvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three werecrucified for the samecrime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell belowtheirenvironment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, andthereby roseabove his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need ofcreativeextremists.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricablybound tothe status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the innerspiritualchurch, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. Butagain I amthankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have brokenloose fromthe paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle forfreedom. Theyhave left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us.They havegone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone tojail withus. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishopsand fellowministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than eviltriumphant. Theirwitness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel inthese troubledtimes. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even ifthechurch does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have nofear about theoutcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood.We willreach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal ofAmerica isfreedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America'sdestiny. Beforethe pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched themajestic wordsof the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For morethan twocenturies our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; theybuilt thehomes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yetout of abottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible crueltiesof slavery couldnot stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom becausethe sacredheritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that hastroubledme profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and"preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force ifyou hadseen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you wouldso quicklycommend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroesherein the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negrogirls; ifyou were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observethem, asthey did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our gracetogether. Icannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
It is impossible to begin this lecture without again expressing my deep appreciation to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament for bestowing upon me and the civil rights movement in the United States such a great honor. Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. Such is the moment I am presently experiencing. I experience this high and joyous moment not for myself alone but for those devotees of nonviolence who have moved so courageously against the ramparts of racial injustice and who in the process have acquired a new estimate of their own human worth. Many of them are young and cultured. Others are middle aged and middle class. The majority are poor and untutored. But they are all united in the quiet conviction that it is better to suffer in dignity than to accept segregation in humiliation. These are the real heroes of the freedom struggle: they are the noble people for whom I accept the Nobel Peace Prize.
Let me not leave you with a false impression. The problem is far from solved. We still have a long, long way to go before the dream of freedom is a reality for the Negro in the United States. To put it figuratively in biblical language, we have left the dusty soils of Egypt and crossed a Red Sea whose waters had for years been hardened by a long and piercing winter of massive resistance. But before we reach the majestic shores of the Promised Land, there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness ahead. We must still face prodigious hilltops of opposition and gigantic mountains of resistance. But with patient and firm determination we will press on until every valley of despair is exalted to new peaks of hope, until every mountain of pride and irrationality is made low by the leveling process of humility and compassion; until the rough places of injustice are transformed into a smooth plane of equality of opportunity; and until the crooked places of prejudice are transformed by the straightening process of bright-eyed wisdom.