Excerpt from “A Time to Break Silence”

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“Now it isn’t easy to stand up for truth and for justice. Sometimes it means being frustrated. When you tell the truth and take a stand, sometimes it means that you will walk the streets with a burdened heart. Sometimes it means losing a job…means being abused and scorned…. Before the crown we wear, there is the cross that we must bear. Let us bear it–bear it for truth, bear it for justice, and bear it for peace. Let us go out this morning with that determination. And I have not lost faith. I’m not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. I haven’t lost faith, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I can still sing “We Shall Overcome” because (Thomas) Carlyle was right: “No lie can live forever.” We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant was right: “Truth pressed to earth will rise again.” We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell was right: “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.” Yet, that scaffold sways the future. We shall overcome because the bible is right: “You shall reap what you sow.”

With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!” With this faith, we’ll sing it as we’re getting ready to sing it now. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. And I don’t know about you, I ain’t gonna study war no more.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968).

While many are undoubtedly familiar with Dr. King’s eloquent “I Have a Dream” speech, his somewhat more obscure criticism of the war in Vietnam is considered to be one of the grandest orations of the 20th Century. He delivered “A Time to Break Silence” at Riverside Church, New York City, on April 4, 1967.  Dr. King would be assassinated exactly one year following this rousing allocution opposing the war.

Almost 50 years later, and with only a few minor word substitutions he could have easily been addressing the Bush administration regarding its forays into Iraq. We have transmuted the imperialist notions of bringing civilization to the savages into bringing democracy to the world to justify wars of empire. Most advanced civilization in history???  You be the judge.

One love,

HJ

amifreeyet

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About H3nry J3kyll
Vincit omnia veritas (using an obscure Latin heraldry motto makes one seem kinda learned and distinguished).

4 Responses to Excerpt from “A Time to Break Silence”

  1. janineyork says:

    So sad, war is just horribly wrong! I hope that we can find a way to peace in the future, I know that evil exists in the world, and that there are those who wish to harm us. I see the need to prevent the killing of our innocent citizens by radicals and war mongers in other countries. Having said that, we are way too advanced to go in “boots on the ground,” killing innocent citizens in other countries. I think the war in Iraq was purely greed and revenge, and that is the saddest kind of war monger. It has changed the face of America to the world and given creedence to the hatred that is used to incite new radicals to become terrorists. This man was a beautiful soul, a prophet and a great motivator. If only we could all be so advanced in thought.

    • Henry Jekyll says:

      I sincerely appreciate you for taking the time to read the post and share your thoughts. The burden has been placed squarely on our shoulders to inform our fellow citizens about the horror of war. We need to support independent media since mainstream news outlets have betrayed the trust of the people.

  2. cindy knoke says:

    I remember reading this as an undergrad. So moving. Thanks for re-introducing it to me many years later~

    • H3nry J3kyll says:

      My pleasure Cindy. They always seem to take the good ones and leave the wretches don’t they?
      I sometimes wonder about how the tail end of the 20th Century might have evolved if RFK and King had lived. Thanks for the exchange and for reading these past posts.

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