Monday, January 20, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Life ~ Day 20 ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Day 20 ~

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

Martin Luther King Jr.

Though he wasn't the first, he became the most visible leader of the civil rights movement. Dr. King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and helped to organize the March on Washington, among many other significant contributions to the movement. He is most famous for his I have a dream speech, given at the culmination of the March.

Today is the day that we celebrate him.

I found it odd that I hadn't run across one of his quotes yet in this project, but then realized the most likely reason - tagging, of all things. The list I am using is on GoodReads, and the quotes are pulled up in the category they are tagged in only. This quote, tagged only as inspirational, which seems just wrong to me. It is that, certainly, but it's more than that and should, in my opinion, be tagged for life as well.

Anyhow, on to the quote, my personal favorite of his.

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

Coming from a man like him, it's not hard to see what he is most likely talking about in this instance. He was a leader of a nonviolent movement demanding equality. He understood and mastered the use of his words in a way that very few people ever achieve. He would not be silenced, he fought for what was right and just.

Some would interpret this quote to just be about fighting oppression. I don't, though that certainly is a large component of it. He certainly would remind us today to open our eyes to the wrongs in the world, and to not just observe them, but to try and effect change however we can. The first, most obvious way to change anything, and the most essential step in any type of progress is to expose the wrongness in the first place.

It's why I do so much of what I do here, though there are times I find myself questioning my motivations, particularly when I get hate mail and friends sever ties with me over something I have written. I am just not capable of ignoring injustices. I'm not designed that way, I guess. I see something bad happening and feel compelled to open the doors and windows and shine a spotlight on it for the world to see.

I don't think he is just talking about injustices though. He's talking about the things that matter, all of the things.

When you see it from that perspective, you must ask yourself what it is in life that matters. What in society matters. Who matters.

You'll find that list a lot longer than anticipated, most likely.

How many of those things do we cast aside, do we become complacent with, do we not give our full attention to, do we put off until tomorrow?

That list, also probably longer than we want to admit.

Dr. King would urge us all to do better, I think.

Let's do that.

1 comment:

  1. This quote is obviously one you live by. It's a good reminder that silence isn't always the best response.


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