Where do We Go From Here?

Martin Luther King, Jr., The Radical King, ed by Cornel West, “Prophetic Vision: Where do We Go From Here,” 1967; p. 92-93.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.  We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act.  One day the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life.  True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.  With righteous indignation, it will look at thousands of working people displaced from their jobs with reduced incomes as a result of automation while the profits of the employers remain intact, and say: “This is not just.”  It will look across the oceans and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.”  It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.”  The Western arrogance of feeling that is has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.  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 business 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 and 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.