“Where Do We Go From Here?” In 1972 Dr. Martin Luther King looked around America and asked that question. King saw two fundamental and divergent responses to the problems that have plagued America since long before the civil rights movement and continue to infect our society in 2016. Some may think our current terrorism is new, but indeed southern terrorist firebombed Rev. King’s home. King asserts that there are only two real options to dealing with difference, conflict, and even evil. If we boil down all our possible responses to our social malaise and growing cultural conflict, we will find that two fundamental responses remain: violence and love.
We can turn to violence- using force to control others.
We can love- listening and seeking to establish justice in cooperation with others.
King offers a thoughtful detailed speech well worth your time. I offer a few of King’s key points as we again ask: “where do we go from here?” What might heal our land force or soul-force?
“Where do we go from here?”
I say to you today that I still stand by nonviolence. And I am still convinced that it is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for justice in this country. And the other thing is, I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.
And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. (King never posits love as silent, passive or retreating) For I have seen too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.
And if you will let me be a preacher just a little bit. (Speak) One day [applause], one night, a juror came to Jesus (Yes sir) and he wanted to know what he could do to be saved. Jesus didn’t get bogged down on the kind of isolated approach…So instead of just getting bogged down on one thing, Jesus looked at him and said, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.” [applause]
In other words, “Your whole structure must be changed.” What I’m saying today is that, “America, you must be born again!”
And so, I conclude by saying today that we have a task, and let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction. Let us be dissatisfied until every family lives in a decent home, and every child learns in high quality integrated school, and integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity, and justice rolls down from every city hall, and nobody shouts “White power” or “Black Power!” but everybody will talk about God’s power, and everyone will be judged on the content of their character not on the color of their skin.
with some adaption from ” where do we go from here?” http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/documentsentry/where_do_we_go_from_here_delivered_at_the_11th_annual_sclc_convention/