Photo by Marion S. Trikosko [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In our new year of conflict, confusion and cowardice, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. represents a perennial call to compassion, clarity and courage. Compassion in the nonviolent nature of hopeful activism, ally relationships and mindfulness with the marginalized. Clarity about the morality of our actions, institutional and personal. Courage facing social inequities and embracing the possibilities of a beloved community.

Dr. King’s leadership invites our deeper considerations for important stepping stones toward lives, communities and societies of hope, equity and peace in the 21st century. As we reflect on these provocative quotes by Dr. King may we who seek to be a community of courage live up to and live into the most noble dreams of our callings.

1) Dare to Love

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

2) Dare to Forgive

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude. 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.”

3) Dare to Be Nonviolent

“We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”

4) Dare to See the Other 

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

5) Dare to Be Known

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

6) Dare to Speak

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

7) Dare to Act

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

8) Dare to Seek Justice beyond Self Interest

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

9) Dare to Hope

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

10) Dare to Lead with Soul

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

MLK’s Call to Action:

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

“With patient and firm determination we will press on until every valley of despair is exalted to new peaks of hope, until every mountain of pride and irrationality is made low by the leveling process of humility and compassion; until the rough places of injustice are transformed into a smooth plane of equality of opportunity; and until the crooked places of prejudice are transformed by the straightening process of bright-eyed wisdom.”

May we be so.

Estrus Tucker is an independent consultant and keynote speaker specializing in small and large group facilitation, focusing on personal, professional and community renewal, transformation, healing and reconciliation. Estrus is a innovative practitioner of the Circles of Trust®, Habits of the Heart®, Dialogue and other models of civic engagement, leadership and organizational development. Estrus brings over 30 years of executive leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, including operations and board governance. Estrus is the 2012 recipient of the International Association of Human Rights Agencies’ (IAOHRA) Individual Achievement Award for his work and leadership in support of creative civic engagement and transformational leadership in Mississippi; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Cape Town, South Africa, and Texas.

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