King Jr.Our Martin Luther King Jr. Call to communities of the nation and the world! January 2008 - “The Fierce Urgency of Now” Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read: Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. "Time to Break the Silence" Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 1967

 


We are living in a time of great peril and possibility. With the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, we embarked on a journey that enlarged the soul of America. We found the courage to question what kind of people we were and the wisdom to change ourselves into a people offering new hope in the world. The struggles of African Americans for full citizenship and dignity inspired more than a half century of progressive movements in the United States and around the world. People long denied and disrespected found their voices in the struggle for citizenship and dignity.

Today we no longer inspire hope in those who have been despised, displaced, and devalued. Instead, we inspire fear, terror and division. More than 40 years ago, Dr. King warned that unless we engaged in a great revolution of values and overcome racism, materialism and militarism, we would 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." Most of us were not among the few who founded this nation more than 200 years ago and who established the political, economic and social patterns that have brought us to this present crisis. But none of us can step back from the responsibility of becoming part of the solution. Because of the struggles of working people in factories and on farms, African Americans, women, Chicanos, Native Americans and immigrants, gay people and youth, all of us have a new "burden and responsibility." All of us have the opportunity to engage in the process of creating a new, more human, more socially conscious, and ecologically responsible nation. In an equally dark and perilous time, Dr King challenged us to move beyond fear, complacency and indecision. On a warm night in April, more than 40 years ago he said: We are now faced with the fact, my friends, 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 adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues 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. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on." We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action.

This year, as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we encourage you to consider his deepest call to the generations to come: 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. As we gather to celebrate his life, let us look at the urgency of now: Let us find the courage to confront the questions: On peace and war: How can we begin to create peace amidst this war? How do we restore relationships of respect and integrity within the community of nations? On sustainable living: How do we live more simply so that others may simply live? On immigration: What do we need to do to protect our brothers and sisters from other lands who have come to find the promise of America and found the terror of deportation and raids in the night? On healthy communities: How do we become engaged in our communities to create and restore ways of living that encourage the imagination and productive capacities of our young people? On justice: How do we guarantee that all of us have the basic human right to education, the sustenance of life, and respect for our work?

Dr. King had faith that if we confronted the questions of our time, honestly, together we would create an America we could all be proud to call our own. And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. We call on all those who read these words to join with those around you to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday this year with his sense of urgency. Feel free to use this statement in any useful way you'd like.

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