“Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars”
Reposting this today in honor of Dr. King:
I am grateful for the reminder in church this morning of the powerful words that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared in his last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” on April 3rd, 1968. His inspiration, support, and leadership lives far beyond the generation of people who knew him, and our world is much changed for the better as a result of his work. I believe the greatest leaders articulate thoughts in a manner that resonate across many generations, peoples, and circumstances, and today King’s message of hope – in an incredibly difficult time – has a special ring for me. In this speech he shares his desire to be in that place, at that time, to face those difficult issues even if given the opportunity to be anywhere else.
And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there…..
Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.”
Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding…..
King goes on to cry out for perseverance, courage, and compassion in a national movement that called on people to endure incredible suffering, and many of the issues he stood against continue to this day. King made mistakes no doubt, but his commitment to the cause of freedom and equality continue to inspire and give purpose.
We’ve shifted to the front half of the 21st century, and yet it continues to be a time of upheaval, challenge, and cause for inspiring leaders to step up to the plate. The difficult issues King fought against continue today while the core structures of our world economy shift into an entirely new era. Alvin Toffler spoke of this shift in his book, The Third Wave, and today his predictions of conflict, huge power shifts, and new hopes are proving remarkably spot on. The changes we are wrestling through in this transition are leaving many without work, governments unable to provide for basic infrastructure needs, and new opportunities for those who grab on to blossoming trends. We are witnessing an entire reorganization of the Middle East and are facing the reality that America can no longer sustain being the largest economy in the world. To use King’s words, “the world is all messed up.”
I believe in King’s mountaintop message. It IS only in the dark that we can see stars, and I predict the 21st century will reveal to us a sky full of stars, galaxies, and solar systems. We will redefine success as a nation from “biggest, strongest, and richest,” to core values rooted in “true joy, purpose, understanding, community, and peace.” We’ll finally shift from being a nation infatuated with the tough guy image of independence and recognize that real peace requires the interdependence of community and humility. We’ll raise up our next generations to measure their success not by the value of their monetary assets but by one’s ability to improve the quality of life for a neighbor. I believe in the tenacity of America and our collective ability to make incredible things happen. I believe in the hearts and minds of educators and their deep well of passion for the leaders of tomorrow. In some strange way, we the people are responding…
But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding….. MLK
See the full text of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous mountaintop speech at: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkivebeentothemountaintop.htm