January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Words for Simplifiers

I'm proud to say that San Antonio will once again have the largest MLK march in the nation today, and I'm thankful that we have a national holiday legally set aside to remember just how truly great Martin Luther King, Jr. really was ....

To that end, I've collected MLK quotations that serve to encourage those of us who are engaged in living simpler lives.

Sure, there are his great words of wisdom dealing with Vietnam, discrimination, the power of non-violent protesting, etc. and I encourage you to go read all those quotes, as well as some of King's speeches and sermons. (Videos of several speeches are available online, and there are audio excerpts of his sermons, too.)

What I'm providing for you here, though, are words that speak to the ongoing effort of living a simplified life in a complex culture and all that entails.

Simplicity is not easy in today's America, and I for one found these quotes to be encouraging and comforting:

We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobile rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.

There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.

We must use time creatively.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

Put yourself in a state of mind where you say to yourself, "Here is an opportunity for me to celebrate like never before, my own power, my own ability to get myself to do whatever is necessary."

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

If man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.

The strong man is the man who can stand up for his rights and not hit back.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
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