Friday, February 17, 2012

Our words matter

[ twenty-six letters ]
MLK Statue. Which quote would you have chosen?
Of course our lives and our actions matter, too,  but the words we choose to use have power. The BSA shared a quote of Dr. King's on Friday that I'd never heard before:

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

That got me thinking about the quote-controversy of the very poorly edited quote on the MLK statue. This weekend I'll be heading down to the Mall in DC to see the MLK memorial for my first time. Even if they had not botched the quote that is presently carved into the statue, I actually did not feel it was one of his most compelling sentiments. 

I love the photo of the statue (above) but I photoshopped the quote out of it.

Which quote would you have chosen to best represent his life? His vision? His dream? Here are just a few of the ones, in random order, that I find inspiring:
  1. “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
  2. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”
  3. “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
  4. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  5. “The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important...”
  6. “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.”
  7. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
  8. “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”
  9. “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
  10. “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” 
  11. “I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”
  12. “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
  13. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
  14. “That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”
  15. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
  16. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  17. “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
  18. “Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies—or else? The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” 
  19. And in the speech he was so tired he almost didn't give, the night before his death, were these words:  “I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”
  20. “Whatever your life's work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
1929-1968 were the days Dr. King was given on this earth. To share, to live, to pray, to struggle, to work, to inspire, and to speak. Not knowing when our book will close, what are the words you are choosing in your life? The actions?

stay curious.
©2012 wendy hudgins

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