I was inspired today to reread a letter written to the clergy by Martin Lither King, Jr. I know that most people would have read his, “I have a dream speech”, and that is precisely what I did for 12 years while I was a literature teacher. I wanted to inspire my high school kids to dream and dream big. But today I am no longer a teacher so I decided to read something else written by Dr. King. This letter causes a pause and an evaluation of my own actions or lack thereof. He talks of a negative peace, a peace that exists with the outward appearance of compliance.
This letter was written to ministers, priests and rabbis of the south during the civil rights movements in the early sixties. He is trying to call them to action as they, “remain silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.” (Martin Luther King, Jr. in a letter from a Birmingham jail, 1963.) I used to wonder what the clergy did in Germany during WWII and I think I just figured it out. They took the easier path of outward compliance rather than true peace. I have no illusion that I may very well have done the same thing without the influence of great men like Martin Luther King, Jr.
I often remain silent, as my extremely conservative family spout ultra conservative ideas with which I am fundamentally unable to agree. Some may call this wisdom but I think it is more likely my distain for conflict and my desire for peace, even if it is not true peace. I may have only been one year old in 1963 but this letter inspires and encourages me to stand up for my beliefs.
I suggest you read this letter, and with that said I will close this post with the same words Dr. king used, “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”