Youmy , there comes awhen people get tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging . There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life'sand left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine . There comes a time. .
I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we arepeople. We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of . The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. That's all. .
We are not , we are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. And if we are wrong,Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong,was merely adreamer that never came down to . If we are wrong,is a lie,has no . And we are determined here in Montgomery toand fight until "justice runs down like , andlike a mighty stream." .
Whatever we do, we must keepin the forefront. Let us be Christian in all of our actions. But I want to tell you this evening that it is not enough for us to talk about , love is one of the pivotal points of the Christian face, . There is another side called . And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love. .
If you have weapons, take them home; if you do not have them, please do not seek to get them. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory . We must meet violence with nonviolence. Remember the words of : "He who lives by thewill perish by the sword." We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them.still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: "Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you." This is what we must live by. We must meetwith love. Remember, if I am stopped, this movement will not stop, becauseis with the movement. Go home with this glowingand this radiant assurance. .
Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his . He is free to deliberate, to make , and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road ofor tread the low road of ugly degeneracy. .
Today it is no longer a choice betweenand nonviolence; it is either nonviolence or nonexistence. It may not be thatis ’s appeal to this age, an age drifting to its doom. And that warning, and that appeal is always in the form of a warning: “He who lives by thewill perish by the .”said it years ago. Whenever men follow that and see that way, new horizons begin to emerge and a new world unfolds. Who today will followin his way and follow it so much that we’ll be able to do greater things even than he did because we will be able to bring about the peace of the world and mobilize hundreds and thousands of men to follow the way of Christ? .
, the Russian writer, said in War and Peace: “I cannot conceive of a man not being free unless he is dead.” While this statement sounds a bit exaggerated, it gets at a basic truth. What Tolstoy is saying in substance is that the absence of freedom is the presence of death. Any nation or government that deprives an individual of freedom is in that moment committing an act of moral and spiritual murder. Any individual who is not concerned about his freedom commits an act of moral and spiritual suicide. .
We must work with determination to create a society, not where black men are superior and other men are inferior and vice versa, but a society in which all men will live together as brothers and respect the dignity and worth of human personality. .
We come humbly to say to the men in the forefront of our government that the civil rights issue is not an Ephemeral, evanescent domestic issue that can be kicked about by reactionary guardians of the status quo; it is rather an eternal moral issue which may well determine the destiny of our nation in the ideological struggle with communism. The hour is late. The clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now, before it is too late. .
This is no day for the rabble-rouser, whether he be Negro or white.We must realize that we are grappling with the most weighty social problem of this nation, and in grappling with such a complex problem there is no place for misguided emotionalism. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for the goal of freedom, but we must be sure that our hands are clean in the struggle. We must never struggle with falsehood, hate, or malice. We must never become bitter. I know how we feel sometime. There is the danger that those of us who have been forced so long to stand amid the tragic midnight of oppression—those of us who have been trampled over, those of us who have been kicked about—there is the danger that we will become bitter. But if we will become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns, the new order which is emerging will be nothing but a duplication of the old order. .
We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is stillcrying out through the vista of time, saying: "Love your enemies , bless them that curse you , pray for them that despitefully use you." Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: "He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword." And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love. .
Now, I’m not talking about a sentimental, shallow kind of love. I’m not talking about eros, which is a sort of aesthetic, romantic love. I’m not even talking about philia, which is a sort of intimate affection between personal friends. But I'm talking about agape. I'm talking about the love of God in the hearts of men. I’m talking about a type of love which will cause you to love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. We've got to love. .
We must not seek to use our emerging freedom and our growing power to do the same thing to the white minority that has been done to us for so many centuries. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man. We must not become victimized with a philosophy of black supremacy. God is not interested merely in freeing black men and brown men and yellow men, but God is interested in freeing the whole human race. We must work with determination to create a society, not where black men are superior and other men are inferior and vice versa, but a society in which all men will live together as brothers and respect the dignity and worth of human personality. .
I conclude by saying that each of us must keep faith in the future. Let us not despair. Let us realize that as we struggle for justice and freedom, we have cosmic companionship. This is the long faith of the Hebraic-Christian tradition: that [[God]] is not someUnmoved Mover who merely contemplates upon himself. He is not merely a self-knowing God, but an other-loving God forever working through history for the establishment of His kingdom. .
begets force,begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must haveenough andenough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain ofin the . And you do that by . .
The success ofin the world today is due to the failure ofto live up to the noble ideals and principles inherent in its system. And this is whatmeans when he said: "How is it that you can see the mote in your brother’s eye and not see the beam in your own eye?" Or to put it in Moffatt’s translation: "How is it that you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye?" And this is one of the tragedies of human nature. So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves. And this is one of the tragedies of human nature. So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves. .
A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element ofin his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points. .
I think the firstthat we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of ’ thinking, is this: that hate foronly intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the . If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. Theis the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must haveenough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of [[love]. .
Somewhere somebody must have some . Men must see thatbegets force,begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough andenough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by . .
History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But oh this isn’t the way. For the danger and the weakness of this method is its futility. Violence creates many more social problems than it solves. And I’ve said, in so many instances, that as the Negro, in particular, and colored peoples all over the world struggle for freedom, if they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way. .
Another way is to acquiesce and to give in, to resign yourself to the oppression. Some people do that. They discover the difficulties of the wilderness moving into the promised land, and they would rather go back to the despots of Egypt because it’s difficult to get in the promised land. And so they resign themselves to the fate of oppression; they somehow acquiesce to this thing. But that too isn’t the way because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. .
But there is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love. It seems to me that this is the only way as our eyes look to the future. As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. .
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