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I had hoped that the white moderate would understand

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I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for thepurpose of establishing justice, and that when they fail to do this they become dangerouslystructured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderatewould understand that the present tension in the South is merely a necessary phase of thetransition from an obnoxious negative peace, where the Negro passively accepted his unjustplight, to a substance-filled positive peace, where all men will respect the dignity and worthof human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not thecreators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never becured as long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its pus-flowing ugliness to thenatural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be exposed, with all of the tensionits exposing creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before itcan be cured.In your statement you asserted that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemnedbecause they precipitate violence. But can this assertion be logically made? Isn't this likecondemning the robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act ofrobbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truthand his philosophical delvings precipitated the misguided popular mind to make him drinkthe hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because His unique God-Consciousness andnever-ceasing devotion to His will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come tosee, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, that it is immoral to urge an individualto withdraw his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest precipitatesviolence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth of time. I received a letterthis morning from a white brother in Texas which said: "All Christians know that the coloredpeople will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great of areligious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost 2000 years to accomplish what it has. Theteachings of Christ take time to come to earth." All that is said here grows out of a tragicmisconception of time. It is the the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the8
very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually time is neutral. It can be usedeither destructively or constructively. I am coming to feel that the people of ill-will have usedtime much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in thisgeneration not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for theappalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls inon wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of menwilling to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally ofthe forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the timeis always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy, and

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Term
Fall
Professor
Gottlieb
Tags
Nonviolence

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