MLK on staying silent

16 Jan

Andi’s note: Martin Luther King, Jr., has been dead longer than he was alive. Yet his legacy lives on – mostly importantly, in his words about overcoming obstacles and the role of silence in oppression.

This is a huge issue in today’s society. In an effort to avoid conflict, we stay silent – or even strive for neutrality – even in the face of oppression, ignorance, and tragic wrongdoing. I read a fable as a child about a man who sees an elephant stepping on a mouse, and the mouse pleads for help. The man says he is neutral on their conflict, refuses to intervene, and the mouse dies. The moral of the tale is neutrality is implied support for the majority, the tyrants, and the oppressors. I believe this is what MLK spoke of when he talked about silence, and why I wanted to share these words with you today.

  • History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

  • In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

  • The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

  • The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
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