Category Archives: People

Oliver Stone Quotes

“The past assumes the nature of the present.”

“I would vote for the man who’s lived life, who’s done different occupations, who’s been out in the real world and struggled to make a living, struggled to raise a family, struggled with life as it exists. So I’d vote for experience, honest experience.”

“I think experience will teach you a combination of liberalism and conservatism. We have to be progressive and at the same time we have to retain values. We have to hold onto the past as we explore the future.”

“Every day that you get up, it’s some kind of victory if you’re making a good product, or working on a project that can only help mankind.”

“I think you can maintain two tracks. I think you have to. That’s what this kind of filmmaking is about. If you’re not aware of the limitations of what you’re up against… it’s like a general: you have to know your artillery and you have to know your infantry. You have to know what you have. You have to marshal your forces and use them well. It comes down to the personal and the intimate, but at the same time you have to have the big picture.”

“When you look at a movie, you look at a director’s thought process.”

“I think our life is a series of adventures.”

“JFK was leading the world, leading the United States into a new position with the Soviet Union. He was calling for the end of the Cold War. He would have been reelected in 1964 because he was vastly popular.”

“I may have disparaged the idea that people are looking at films on smaller and smaller screens… it’s a shame that people have to watch DVDs with the lights on in a television-type situation where people are wandering in and out of the room. Movies are different from television, and you cannot watch movies like television. It distorts it.”

“Forget the grand plan. Forget the master scheme. Forget control. That is the bleak but true basis of independent cinema. Inch by motherflooging inch we must, because we have no other choice.”

“If you make the movie from your heart and it stands over time, that’s what matters to me.”

“Everyone in the world is impacted by the United States’ Big Brother attitude toward the world. We need countries to say no to the United States. The United States is the dominant power in the universe, with its eavesdropping abilities, cyber abilities. And the world is in danger with our tyranny.”

“You can never judge how the film will be taken; you can only make your best effort, and put out what you feel. How it’s read, you never can tell. Or remembered for that matter.”

“Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that.”

“I love films. I love fiction films, too. I do. I love making them, but it has to be the right one. Hopefully, I’ll never become a director for hire. It’s horrible to make a film that you’re not really interested in.”

“Hell is the impossibility of reason.”

“I knew that one day I would come to this point that I would make something so outrageous and so ambitious that… it’d be that Don Quixote feeling, that I’d have to tilt at a windmill. Sometimes you’ve got to do it. That’s the only way you can do things.”

“Football is mesmerizing, because it’s a figurative war. You go in one direction till you get there, but you get there as a team, not as an individual. Players bond whether they’re black or white, much as soldiers do.”

“I went to Vietnam, and I was there for a long time. [Using marijuana] made the difference between staying human or, as Michael Douglas said, becoming a beast.”

“We all know what we know. We experience with our minds and breath.”

“Coming Home had been made before and Apocalypse Now and Deer Hunter, different kinds of movies.”

“I’m a dramatist. Dramatists have a right to look at history and interpret it the way they see it.”

“I would vote for the man who’s lived life, who’s done different occupations, who’s been out in the real world and struggled to make a living, struggled to raise a family, struggled with life as it exists. So I’d vote for experience, honest experience.”

 

Fyodor Dostoevsky Quotes

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― The Brothers Karamazov

“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
― Crime and Punishment

“To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.”
― Crime and Punishment

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
― The Brothers Karamazov

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
Crime and Punishment

“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.”
Notes from Underground

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
Notes from Underground

“Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms. It’s by talking nonsense that one gets to the truth! I talk nonsense, therefore I’m human”
Notes from Underground

“The soul is healed by being with children.”

“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”

“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”
Crime and Punishment

“I love mankind, he said, “but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular.”
― The Brothers Karamazov

“It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.”
Crime and Punishment

“But how could you live and have no story to tell?”
White Nights

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”
Crime and Punishment

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
The Brothers Karamazov

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”

“Right or wrong, it’s very pleasant to break something from time to time.”

“I am a dreamer. I know so little of real life that I just can’t help re-living such moments as these in my dreams, for such moments are something I have very rarely experienced. I am going to dream about you the whole night, the whole week, the whole year. I feel I know you so well that I couldn’t have known you better if we’d been friends for twenty years. You won’t fail me, will you? Only two minutes, and you’ve made me happy forever. Yes, happy. Who knows, perhaps you’ve reconciled me with myself, resolved all my doubts.

When I woke up it seemed to me that some snatch of a tune I had known for a long time, I had heard somewhere before but had forgotten, a melody of great sweetness, was coming back to me now. It seemed to me that it had been trying to emerge from my soul all my life, and only now-

If and when you fall in love, may you be happy with her. I don’t need to wish her anything, for she’ll be happy with you. May your sky always be clear, may your dear smile always be bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart. Isn’t such a moment sufficient for the whole of one’s life?”
White Nights

“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.”

“To love someone means to see them as God intended them.”

“Man is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life unravelling it, don’t say that you’ve wasted time. I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.”

“The world says: ‘You have needs — satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.’ This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.”
The Brothers Karamazov

“I swear to you gentlemen, that to be overly conscious is a sickness, a real, thorough sickness.”
Notes from Underground

“Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering…”

“The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.”
The Brothers Karamazov

“You can be sincere and still be stupid.”

“If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don’t bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he’s a good man.”

“I can see the sun, but even if I cannot see the sun, I know that it exists. And to know that the sun is there – that is living.”
The Brothers Karamazov

“It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them — the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.”

“‘Not one people,’ he began, as though reading it line by line and at the same time continuing to look menacingly at Stavrogin― ‘not one people has yet ordered its life in accordance with the principles of science and reason.  There has never been an instance of it, except only for a moment, out of folly.  Socialism is by its very nature bound to be atheistic because it has proclaimed from the very first that it is an atheistic institution and that it intends to organize itself exclusively on the principles of science and reason.  Reason and science have always, today and from the very beginning of time, played a secondary and subordinate part; and so they will to the end of time.  Peoples are formed and moved by quite a different force, a force that dominates and exercises its authority over them, the origin of which, however, is unknown and inexplicable.  That force is the force of an unquenchable desire to go on to the end and, at the same time, to deny the existence of an end.  It is the force of an incessant and persistent affirmation of its existence and a denial of death.  It is the spirit of life, as the Scripture says, ‘rivers of living water,’ the running dry of which is threatened in Revelation.  It is the aesthetic principle, as the philosophers call it, an ethical principle, with which they identify it, the ‘seeking of God,’ as I call it much more simply.  The purpose of the whole evolution of a nation, in every people and at every period of its existence, is solely the pursuit of God, their God, their very own God, and faith in Him as in the only true one.  God is the synthetic personality of the whole people, taken from its beginning to its end.  It has never happened that all or many peoples should have one common God, but every people has always had its own special one.  The first sign of the decay of nations is when they begin to have common gods.  When gods begin to be common gods, the gods die as well as the faith in them, together with the peoples themselves.  The more powerful a nation, the more individual its god.  There has never yet been a nation without a religion, that is to say, without the conception of good and evil.  Every people has its own conception of good and evil and its own good and evil.  When the conceptions of good and evil become general among many nations, then these nations begin to die out, and the very distinction between good and evil begins to get blurred and to vanish.  Reason has never been able to define good and evil, or even to separate good from evil, not even approximately; on the contrary, it had always mixed them up in a most pitiful and disgraceful fashion; as for science, its solutions have always been based on brute force.  This was particularly true of that half-science, that most terrible scourge of mankind, worse than pestilence, famine, or war, and quite unknown till our present century.  Half-science is a despot such as has never been known before.  A despot that has its own priests and slaves, a despot before whom everybody prostrates himself with love and superstitious dread, such as has been quite inconceivable till now, before whom science itself trembles and surrenders in a shameful way.  These are your own words, Stavrogin, except only what I have said about half-science; that is mine, because I represent only half-science, and that’s why I hate it particularly.  As for your own ideas and even your own words, I haven’t changed anything, not a single word.'”
― Demons

 

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

President Eisenhower’s Inaugural Address

Watch the Address here

My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your heads:

Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the Executive branch of Government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere.

Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race or calling.

May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen.

My fellow citizens:

The world and we have passed the midway point of a century of continuing challenge. We sense with all our faculties that forces of good and evil are massed and armed and opposed as rarely before in history.

This fact defines the meaning of this day. We are summoned by this honored and historic ceremony to witness more than the act of one citizen swearing his oath of service, in the presence of God. We are called as a people to give testimony in the sight of the world to our faith that the future shall belong to the free.

Since this century’s beginning, a time of tempest has seemed to come upon the continents of the earth. Masses of Asia have awakened to strike off shackles of the past. Great nations of Europe have fought their bloodiest wars. Thrones have toppled and their vast empires have disappeared. New nations have been born.

For our own country, it has been a time of recurring trial. We have grown in power and in responsibility. We have passed through the anxieties of depression and of war to a summit unmatched in man’s history. Seeking to secure peace in the world, we have had to fight through the forests of the Argonne to the shores of Iwo Jima, and to the cold mountains of Korea.

In the swift rush of great events, we find ourselves groping to know the full sense and meaning of these times in which we live. In our quest of understanding, we beseech God’s guidance. We summon all our knowledge of the past and we scan all signs of the future. We bring all our wit and all our will to meet the question:

How far have we come in man’s long pilgrimage from darkness toward the light? Are we nearing the light–a day of freedom and of peace for all mankind? Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon us?

Great as are the preoccupations absorbing us at home, concerned as we are with matters that deeply affect our livelihood today and our vision of the future, each of these domestic problems is dwarfed by, and often even created by, this question that involves all humankind.

This trial comes at a moment when man’s power to achieve good or to inflict evil surpasses the brightest hopes and the sharpest fears of all ages. We can turn rivers in their courses, level mountains to the plains. Oceans and land and sky are avenues for our colossal commerce. Disease diminishes and life lengthens.

Yet the promise of this life is imperiled by the very genius that has made it possible. Nations amass wealth. Labor sweats to create–and turns out devices to level not only mountains but also cities. Science seems ready to confer upon us, as its final gift, the power to erase human life from this planet.

At such a time in history, we who are free must proclaim anew our faith. This faith is the abiding creed of our fathers. It is our faith in the deathless dignity of man, governed by eternal moral and natural laws.

This faith defines our full view of life. It establishes, beyond debate, those gifts of the Creator that are man’s inalienable rights, and that make all men equal in His sight.

In the light of this equality, we know that the virtues most cherished by free people–love of truth, pride of work, devotion to country–all are treasures equally precious in the lives of the most humble and of the most exalted. The men who mine coal and fire furnaces, and balance ledgers, and turn lathes, and pick cotton, and heal the sick and plant corn–all serve as proudly and as profitably for America as the statesmen who draft treaties and the legislators who enact laws.

This faith rules our whole way of life. It decrees that we, the people, elect leaders not to rule but to serve. It asserts that we have the right to choice of our own work and to the reward of our own toil. It inspires the initiative that makes our productivity the wonder of the world. And it warns that any man who seeks to deny equality among all his brothers betrays the spirit of the free and invites the mockery of the tyrant.

It is because we, all of us, hold to these principles that the political changes accomplished this day do not imply turbulence, upheaval or disorder. Rather this change expresses a purpose of strengthening our dedication and devotion to the precepts of our founding documents, a conscious renewal of faith in our country and in the watchfulness of a Divine Providence.

The enemies of this faith know no god but force, no devotion but its use. They tutor men in treason. They feed upon the hunger of others. Whatever defies them, they torture, especially the truth.

Here, then, is joined no argument between slightly differing philosophies. This conflict strikes directly at the faith of our fathers and the lives of our sons. No principle or treasure that we hold, from the spiritual knowledge of our free schools and churches to the creative magic of free labor and capital, nothing lies safely beyond the reach of this struggle.

Freedom is pitted against slavery; lightness against the dark

The faith we hold belongs not to us alone but to the free of all the world. This common bond binds the grower of rice in Burma and the planter of wheat in Iowa, the shepherd in southern Italy and the mountaineer in the Andes. It confers a common dignity upon the French soldier who dies in Indo-China, the British soldier killed in Malaya, the American life given in Korea.

We know, beyond this, that we are linked to all free peoples not merely by a noble idea but by a simple need. No free people can for long cling to any privilege or enjoy any safety in economic solitude. For all our own material might, even we need markets in the world for the surpluses of our farms and our factories. Equally, we need for these same farms and factories vital materials and products of distant lands. This basic law of interdependence, so manifest in the commerce of peace, applies with thousand-fold intensity in the event of war.

So we are persuaded by necessity and by belief that the strength of all free peoples lies in unity; their danger, in discord.

To produce this unity, to meet the challenge of our time, destiny has laid upon our country the responsibility of the free world’s leadership.

So it is proper that we assure our friends once again that, in the discharge of this responsibility, we Americans know and we observe the difference between world leadership and imperialism; between firmness and truculence; between a thoughtfully calculated goal and spasmodic reaction to the stimulus of emergencies.

We wish our friends the world over to know this above all: we face the threat–not with dread and confusion–but with confidence and conviction.

We feel this moral strength because we know that we are not helpless prisoners of history. We are free men. We shall remain free, never to be proven guilty of the one capital offense against freedom, a lack of stanch faith.

In pleading our just cause before the bar of history and in pressing our labor for world peace, we shall be guided by certain fixed principles. These principles are:

1. Abhorring war as a chosen way to balk the purposes of those who threaten us, we hold it to be the first task of statesmanship to develop the strength that will deter the forces of aggression and promote the conditions of peace. For, as it must be the supreme purpose of all free men, so it must be the dedication of their leaders, to save humanity from preying upon itself.

In the light of this principle, we stand ready to engage with any and all others in joint effort to remove the causes of mutual fear and distrust among nations, so as to make possible drastic reduction of armaments. The sole requisites for undertaking such effort are that–in their purpose–they be aimed logically and honestly toward secure peace for all; and that–in their result–they provide methods by which every participating nation will prove good faith in carrying out its pledge.

2. Realizing that common sense and common decency alike dictate the futility of appeasement, we shall never try to placate an aggressor by the false and wicked bargain of trading honor for security. Americans, indeed, all free men, remember that in the final choice a soldier’s pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner’s chains.

3. Knowing that only a United States that is strong and immensely productive can help defend freedom in our world, we view our Nation’s strength and security as a trust upon which rests the hope of free men everywhere. It is the firm duty of each of our free citizens and of every free citizen everywhere to place the cause of his country before the comfort, the convenience of himself.

4. Honoring the identity and the special heritage of each nation in the world, we shall never use our strength to try to impress upon another people our own cherished political and economic institutions.

5. Assessing realistically the needs and capacities of proven friends of freedom, we shall strive to help them to achieve their own security and well-being. Likewise, we shall count upon them to assume, within the limits of their resources, their full and just burdens in the common defense of freedom.

6. Recognizing economic health as an indispensable basis of military strength and the free world’s peace, we shall strive to foster everywhere, and to practice ourselves, policies that encourage productivity and profitable trade. For the impoverishment of any single people in the world means danger to the well-being of all other peoples.

7. Appreciating that economic need, military security and political wisdom combine to suggest regional groupings of free peoples, we hope, within the framework of the United Nations, to help strengthen such special bonds the world over. The nature of these ties must vary with the different problems of different areas.

In the Western Hemisphere, we enthusiastically join with all our neighbors in the work of perfecting a community of fraternal trust and common purpose.

In Europe, we ask that enlightened and inspired leaders of the Western nations strive with renewed vigor to make the unity of their peoples a reality. Only as free Europe unitedly marshals its strength can it effectively safeguard, even with our help, its spiritual and cultural heritage.

8. Conceiving the defense of freedom, like freedom itself, to be one and indivisible, we hold all continents and peoples in equal regard and honor. We reject any insinuation that one race or another, one people or another, is in any sense inferior or expendable.

9. Respecting the United Nations as the living sign of all people’s hope for peace, we shall strive to make it not merely an eloquent symbol but an effective force. And in our quest for an honorable peace, we shall neither compromise, nor tire, nor ever cease.

By these rules of conduct, we hope to be known to all peoples.

By their observance, an earth of peace may become not a vision but a fact.

This hope–this supreme aspiration–must rule the way we live.

We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose.

We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

These basic precepts are not lofty abstractions, far removed from matters of daily living. They are laws of spiritual strength that generate and define our material strength. Patriotism means equipped forces and a prepared citizenry. Moral stamina means more energy and more productivity, on the farm and in the factory. Love of liberty means the guarding of every resource that makes freedom possible–from the sanctity of our families and the wealth of our soil to the genius of our scientists.

And so each citizen plays an indispensable role. The productivity of our heads, our hands and our hearts is the source of all the strength we can command, for both the enrichment of our lives and the winning of the peace.

No person, no home, no community can be beyond the reach of this call. We are summoned to act in wisdom and in conscience, to work with industry, to teach with persuasion, to preach with conviction, to weigh our every deed with care and with compassion. For this truth must be clear before us: whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.

The peace we seek, then, is nothing less than the practice and fulfillment of our whole faith among ourselves and in our dealings with others. This signifies more than the stilling of guns, casing the sorrow of war. More than escape from death, it is a way of life. More than a haven for the weary, it is a hope for the brave.

This is the hope that beckons us onward in this century of trial. This is the work that awaits us all, to be done with bravery, with charity, and with prayer to Almighty God.

My citizens–I thank you.

Founding Father

Preamble of the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

George Washington Quotes:

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

“Friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”

 

Hokusai’s Views of Mount Fuji

Hokusai is a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter, and printmaker who lived from 1760 to 1849.  In 1830 he began his 36 Views of Mount Fuji, a series of prints depicting different scenes in which the sacred mountain is visible.  Attributed to the artist is this quote:  “At the age of five years I had the habit of sketching things.  At the age of fifty I had produced a large number of pictures, but for all that, none of them had any merit until the age of seventy.  At seventy-three finally I learned something about the true nature of things, birds, animals, insects, fish, the grasses and the trees.  So at the age of eighty years I will have made some progress, at ninety I will have penetrated the deepest significance of things, at a hundred I will make real wonders and at a hundred and ten, every point, every line, will have a life of its own.”  Below are nine of the 36 Views, including Hokusai’s most famous print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

 

HokMannen

 

hokSurug

 

HokCushion

 

HokInume

 

HokKoishikawa

 

HokEjiri

 

HokNihon

 

HokSekiya

 

Hokusai

 

Letter From A Birmingham Jail

16 April 1963

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.”  Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas.  If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work.  But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.”  I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.  We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.  Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates.  Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary.  We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise.  So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here.  I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.  Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town.  Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states.  I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.  Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.  Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea.  Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham.  But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.  I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.  It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.  We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham.  There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community.  Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.  Its ugly record of brutality is widely known.  Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts.  There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation.  These are the hard, brutal facts of the case.  On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers.  But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community.  In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants–for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs.  On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations.  As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise.  A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.  As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us.  We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.  Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification.  We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves:  “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?”  “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?”  We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year.  Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day.  When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues.  Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement.  Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask:  “Why direct action?  Why sit ins, marches and so forth?  Isn’t negotiation a better path?”  You are quite right in calling for negotiation.  Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action.  Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.  It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.  My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking.  But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.”  I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.  Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.  The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.  I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation.  Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely.  Some have asked:  “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?”  The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act.  We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham.  While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo.  I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation.  But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights.  My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure.  Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.  Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.  For years now I have heard the word “Wait!”  It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity.  This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.”  We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights.  The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.  Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.”  But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking:  “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.  There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.  I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.  You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws.  This is certainly a legitimate concern.  Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws.  One may well ask:  “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?”  The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust.  I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws.  One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.  Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.  I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two?  How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?  A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.  An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.  To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas:  An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.  Any law that uplifts human personality is just.  Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.  All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.  It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.  Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things.  Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful.  Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation.  Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?  Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws.  An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.  This is difference made legal.  By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself.  This is sameness made legal.  Let me give another explanation.  A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.  Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected?  Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered.  Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application.  For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit.  Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade.  But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out.  In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist.  That would lead to anarchy.  One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.  I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience.  It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake.  It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.  To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience.  In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.”  It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.  Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.  If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers.  First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.  I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says:  “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”  Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.  Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.  I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.  Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension.  We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.  We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.  Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence.  But is this a logical assertion?  Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery?  Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock?  Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion?  We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence.  Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.  I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom.  I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas.  He writes:  “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry.  It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has.  The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.”  Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills.  Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively.  More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will.  We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.  Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.  We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.  Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.  Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme.  At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist.  I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community.  One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses.  The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence.  It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement.  Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible “devil.”

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist.  For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest.  I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle.  If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood.  And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.  The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro.  Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.  Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice.  If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place.  The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them.  So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so.  If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history.  So I have not said to my people:  “Get rid of your discontent.”  Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action.  And now this approach is being termed extremist.  But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label.  Was not Jesus an extremist for love:  “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”  Was not Amos an extremist for justice:  “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”  Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel:  “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”  Was not Martin Luther an extremist:  “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.”  And John Bunyan:  “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.”  And Abraham Lincoln:  “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.”  And Thomas Jefferson:  “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .”  So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.  Will we be extremists for hate or for love?  Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?  In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified.  We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism.  Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment.  The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.  Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need.  Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much.  I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action.  I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it.  They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality.  Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle–have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms.  Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South.  They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as “dirty nigger-lovers.”  Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.  Let me take note of my other major disappointment.  I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership.  Of course, there are some notable exceptions.  I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue.  I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis.  I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church.  I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church.  I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church.  I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies.  Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure.  I had hoped that each of you would understand.  But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare:  “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.”  In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities.  In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say:  “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.”  And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states.  On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward.  I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings.  Over and over I have found myself asking:  “What kind of people worship here?  Who is their God?  Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification?  Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred?  Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Yes, these questions are still in my mind.  In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church.  But be assured that my tears have been tears of love.  There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.  Yes, I love the church.  How could I do otherwise?  I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers.  Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ.  But, oh!  How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed.  In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.  Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”  But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man.  Small in number, they were big in commitment.  They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.”  By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.  Things are different now.  So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound.  So often it is an archdefender of the status quo.  Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before.  If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.  Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic.  Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?  Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world.  But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom.  They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us.  They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom.  Yes, they have gone to jail with us.  Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers.  But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.  Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times.  They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.  I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour.  But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future.  I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood.  We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.  Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.  Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here.  Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here.  For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop.  If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail.  We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.  Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly.  You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.”  I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes.  I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together.  I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators.  In this sense they have conducted themselves rather “nonviolently” in public.  But for what purpose?  To preserve the evil system of segregation.  Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.  I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends.  But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.  Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice.  As T. S. Eliot has said:  “The last temptation is the greatest treason:  To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation.  One day the South will recognize its real heroes.  They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer.  They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness:  “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.”  They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake.  One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter.  I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time.  I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me.  If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith.  I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother.  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.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg

Bio from The Great Horologion, Orthodox prayer book:

“Our righteous Mother Xenia of Petersburg was born about the year 1730.  She was married to a Colonel named Andrew.  When she was twenty-six years old, her husband died suddenly, having been drinking with his friends.  Left a childless widow, Xenia gave away all that she had, and vanished from Saint Petersburg for eight years.  It is believed that she spent this time in a hermitage, learning the spiritual life.  When she returned to Saint Petersburg, she wore her husband’s military clothing, and would answer only to the name Andrew, that is, the name of her husband.  She took up the life of a homeless wanderer, and was abused by many as insane.  She bore this with great patience, crucifying the carnal mind through the mockery she endured, and praying for her husband’s soul.  She was given great gifts of prayer and prophecy, and often foretold things to come.  In 1796 she foretold the death of Empress Catherine II.  Having lived forty-five years after her husband’s death, she reposed in peace at the age of seventy-one, about the year 1800.  Her grave became such a source of miracles, and so many came to take soil from it as a blessing, that it was often necessary to replace the soil.  When a stone slab was placed over her grave, this too disappeared over time, piece by piece.  Saint Xenia is especially invoked for help in finding employment, lodging, or a spouse.”

 

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas was born in the third century AD and lived during the reign of Emperor Constantine of Rome, or Saint Constantine the Great as he is known in the church.  When Nicholas was a young man he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem intending to live a solitary life of prayer, however he returned to Myra (a town in what is now the nation of Turkey), where he was ordained bishop.  Through his charitable work for those in need, for the Church, and for the Gospel of Christ, Saint Nicholas became well-known and beloved among the faithful of that time.  He attended the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD in Nicaea, where he rebuked Arius for blasphemy, and where the Nicene Creed was adopted, which begins “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…”

The legend of Santa Claus evolved from Saint Nicholas’s practice of giving anonymous gifts to people, sometimes dropping gold coins in the shoes left out for him, and on a few occasions tossing bags of gold coins into the open windows of houses when families needed financial help.  One story tells of him dropping a bag of gold down the chimney of a home in order to evade the praise of the home’s owner, so that their gratitude for the good deed would go to God instead.

The Eastern Orthodox Church reveres Saint Nicholas as the patron of travelers, repentant thieves, and those who’ve been falsely accused, among others.  His feast day is celebrated every year on December 6th.  Thank you, Saint Nick.