February 27 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

An additional principle that Dr. King talked about in his Christmas Sermon on Peace is nonviolence and the importance of the means we use to achieve our goal of social justice.

“If we are to have peace in the world, men and nations must embrace the nonviolent affirmation that ends and means must cohere. … There have always been those who argued that the end justifies the means, that the means really aren’t important. The important things is to get to the end. … So if you are seeking to develop a just society, any means will do so long as you get there. They may be violent, they may be untruthful means; they may even be unjust means to a just end. There have been those who have argued this throughout history. But we will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and, ultimately, you can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.

“It is one of the strangest things that all the great military geniuses of the world have talked about peace. the conquerors of old who came killing in pursuit of peace, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne and Napoleon were seeking a peaceful world order. … They were talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.”

Link to more:

In what was one of his first national television interviews in 1957, young Martin Luther King, Jr. (he was 28 at the time) explained his belief in non-violence to Martin Agronsky. A six minute clip from that interview can be found here.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • If Dr. King is right that “the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree” what implications does that have for your life?
  • Pray for the wisdom to know what to do when you face a situation where there is a conflict between the goal you have in mind and the means you have to use to achieve it.


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