Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: A Great Time to Be Alive

Excerpt from Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964.

…I have the personal faith that mankind will somehow rise up to the occasion and give new directions to an age drifting rapidly to its doom.  In spite of the tensions and uncertainties of this period something profoundly meaningful is taking place.  Old systems of exploitation and oppression are passing away, and out of the womb of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born.  Doors of opportunity are gradually being opened to those at the bottom of society.  The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are developing a new sense of “some-bodiness” and carving a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of despair.  “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.”  Here and there an individual or group dares to love, and rises to the majestic heights of moral maturity.  So in a real sense this is a great time to be alive.

Therefore, I am not yet discouraged about the future.  Granted that the easygoing optimism of yesterday is impossible.  Granted that those who pioneer in the struggle for peace and freedom will still face uncomfortable jail terms, painful threats of death; they will still be battered by the storms of persecution, leading them to the nagging feeling that they can no longer bear such a heavy burden, and the temptation of wanting to retreat to a more quiet and serene life.  Granted that we face a world crisis which leaves us standing so often amid the surging murmur of life’s restless sea.  But every crisis has both its dangers and its opportunities.  It can spell either salvation or doom.  In a dark confused world the kingdom of God may yet reign in the hearts of men.