The next time you enter Westminster Abbey do so through the Great West Door and take a moment to look up at the statue of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta’s native son. Westminster Abbey is a very long way from the ‘Sweet Auburn’ neighborhood where he was born, but the reverend’s words bridge both time and distance.
“Unlike physical blindness that is usually inflicted upon individuals as a result of natural forces beyond their control, intellectual and moral blindness is a dilemma which man inflicts upon himself by his tragic misuse of freedom and his failure to use his mind to its fullest capacity. One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong. Only through the bringing together of head and heart — intelligence and goodness — shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature. Neither is this to say that one must be a philosopher or a possessor of extensive academic training before he can achieve the good life. I know many people of limited formal training who have amazing intelligence and foresight. The call for intelligence is a call for open-mindedness, sound judgment, and love for truth. It is a call for men to rise above the stagnation of closedmindedness and the paralysis of gullibility. One does not need to be a profound scholar to be openminded, nor a keen academician to engage in an assiduous pursuit for truth.
“Light has come into the world. A voice crying through the vista of time calls men to walk in the light. Man’s earthly life will become a tragic cosmic elegy if he fails to heed this call. ‘This is the condemnation,’ says John, ‘that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.'” (pgs. 47-8)
Shakespeare wrote: “For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;/Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”
[[King, Jr., Martin Luther. “Strength to Love.” Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963]]
[[Photo: Barbara Butler McCoy, Feb. 2009, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta, GA, USA]]