What Kind of Extremists Will We Be? Haunted by MLK
On this forty-fifth anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. . . . Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and . . . when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously constructed dams that block the flow of social progress. . . . Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God. . . . The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? . . . In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as being the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists. . . . So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are. . . . Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned to outright disgust. . . . I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. . . . Let us all hope that . . . in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail