Editorial — Dr. King proof that words matter 

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 21, 2021

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Words do matter.

What you say matters.

And today, as much as any time in our country’s recent history, the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. matter.

Of course, his words matter to Black people, they matter to the poor, they matter to the downtrodden, and to the ones traditionally looked down upon by much of our society.

But his words should matter to us all.

It’s no wonder he was met with such hatred. Although what he was proposing was long overdue, it was change. Drastic change. It seems we’re never ready for drastic change, whether positive or not.

Dr. King was a minister. And like him or not, King had a way of cutting right to the chase. He didn’t do it with harsh words or threats or by demeaning those who opposed him. He did it with words of hope and of wisdom. He knew right from wrong, and wasn’t afraid to speak up. And his words make us think, not only about ourselves, but about the world around us.

Following are just a few King quotes. There are hundreds more worthy of publication and just as inspirational.

• “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

• “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”

• “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”

• “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

• “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

• “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.”

• “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”

• “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”

• “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

• “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

• “The time is always right to do what is right.”

• “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.