I providentially came across Martin Luther King Jr.'s "The Trumpet of Conscience" while visiting The White Pine in Idaho a few weekends ago; I had read quotes from MLK Jr. in several other books and was really wanting to pick up some of his own writings. I have also been listening to several of his sermons and speeches for free at this great website called Martin Luther King Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle. I would recommend 'Paul's Letter to American Christians' as well as 'Loving Your Enemies'; both could be and should be heard today in churches around the country.
I write not as a selfish, holier than thou, but as a man of conviction and belief that there is a better way of life both in the here and now, but as well as in the afterlife. I understand man is flawed and the nature of sin is easy, is more convenient, and is more attractive, but I firmly believe and pray the words Jesus taught his disciples in the Lord's Prayer "...your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-13). I do not believe that as spiritual believers that we are to sit back and let the world fall to pieces; in Genesis 1 God created men and women to be in charge of the other creatures and out of love and respect to God we are to be responsible with all the animals, plants, and resources we have been given. I believe we are to creatively oppose hate, violence, poverty, war, and selfishness with love for God, as well as, for one another which are the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). Dr. King speaks about the role of nonviolence and love to help protest on behalf of the afflicted as well as for yourself. I wanted to just share several excerpts that really struck my heart, conscience, and convictions.
As I have said and will continue to say until the breath seeps from my lungs, I...am...not...perfect...but there is One who is and I am trying to reflect some sort of portion of Him to others. I encourage conversation, questions, and disagreement.
Excerpts from 'Conscience and the Vietnam War':
"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."
"Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when they help us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weakness of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition."
"Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest."
"The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just."
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."
Excerpts from 'Youth and Social Action':
"Nothing in our glittering technology can raise man to new heights, because material growth has been made an end in itself, and, in the absence of moral purpose, man himself becomes smaller as the work of man become bigger."
"The conscience of an awakened activist cannot be satisfied with a focus on local problems, if only because he sees that local problems are all interconnected with world problems."
Excerpts from 'Nonviolence and Social Change':
"Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on; it is not man."
"We in the west must bear in mind that the poor countries are poor primarily because we have exploited them through political or economic colonialism."
"Americans in particular must help their nation repent of her modern economic imperialism."
Excerpts from 'A Christmas Sermon on Peace':
"If we don't have goodwill toward men in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power."
"Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective."
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
"We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means."
"But be assured that we'll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory."
Dr. Kings' words rang true in 1967 and continue to ring true to today. I encourage you to pickup a copy of "The Trumpets of Conscience"; it is a quick read not even a hundred pages. My only aim is to better myself into a more loving and aware being; this isn't a guilt trip or a means to finger point, subsequently the only finger pointing has been at my own life.