Today we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who ultimately gave his life for his dream. Everybody has a favorite Dr. King quote. I thought I would share mine with you, today.
“They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.”–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as written in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
Letter from a Birmingham Jail was written, as the title indicates, as Dr. King was incarcerated in Birmingham, AL. The letter was written to answer the accusations of white clergy men in Alabama who said that Dr. King was merely stirring up trouble, even if his cause was just. They urged him to quietly call for change in the court systems and stop the protests, though they were peaceful. They told him that his civil disobedience wasn’t Christ-like, but merely attention seeking behavior. Dr. King responded with beautifully composed prose that called the clergymen out for embracing a power structure built on injustice. He blasted local churches for quietly giving power to an oppressing system and called for these churches to become beacons of change. Dr. King’s letter addresses the local church as an untapped power source for changing the world and calls for them to stop ‘waiting for the right time to act’.
Dr. King then goes on to describe those who marched and sat-in beside him in Birmingham as “too God intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated’. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.”
As I sit in my living room, listening to my kids play Wii on their day off from school, I am uneasy. I, too, benefit from oppressing systems, because of my race and my nationality. I, too, find myself often waiting ‘for the right time to act’ when the action may stir up unrest. This quote from Dr. King brings my word for this year into sharper focus. I can honor my calling by carving tunnels. I am not able to move an entire mountain but I can chip away at tunnels of hope.
And in another small chip at a tunnel of hope, here is a link where you can watch Dr. King’s famous speech, “I have a dream.”