Fifty years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King preached one of his most prophetic sermons at Riverside Church in NYC (where I was ordained). The sermon is entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” Below is a summary of excerpt from this sermon where he focuses on the triple evils of poverty, racism, and militarism.
It is a great question for our times, as next Friday, Jan 20th, we inaugurate Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. We live in a time when we cannot take democracy or our deepest moral convictions for granted.
We have so much to learn from the wisdom of those who worked tirelessly in the black civil rights movement in this country and from leaders like Dr King, who in turn, derived his wisdom from the teachings of Gandhi and Jesus.
This Sunday, join us as we come together widening the circle of community, to gain strength for the journey together.
Blessings, Pastor Laurie
The Triple Evils of POVERTY, RACISM and MILITARISM are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community. When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils. To work against the Triple Evils, you must develop a nonviolent frame of mind as described in the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” and use the Kingian model for social action outlined in the “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change.”
Some contemporary examples of the Triple Evils are listed next to each item:
Poverty – unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality, slums…
“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty … The well off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.”
Racism – prejudice, apartheid, ethnic conflict, anti-Semitism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, ageism, discrimination against disabled groups, stereotypes…
“Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. It is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.”
Militarism – war, imperialism, domestic violence, rape, terrorism, human trafficking, media violence, drugs, child abuse, violent crime…
“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war- ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This way of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Source: “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Boston: Beacon Press, 1967.