The United States has been blessed to have many great orators in its history. Think of Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Chase Smith, John F. Kennedy. Martin Luther King belongs right up in the top ten, too. Every time I discover one of King’s speeches that is new to me I find a paragraph or two that stand out so brilliantly for their truth and clarity that it brings tears to my eyes or makes me gasp in surprise. I honestly believe that many times King’s language came to him from another world it is so startling in its use of words, imagery, and emotion.
If you’ve read my blog very often you know that I firmly believe we are called to lead the life we are given from a place of deep vision. That vision fuels us, gives us courage, leads us through the dark times. Clear vision helps us to stand when we need to for ourselves and others, gives us answers as to how to guide our business, provides what I call the “ground of being” for our personal lives. Today, my friend Diana Blanco of Smooth Parenting shared an MLK quote that was new to me.
King speaks eloquently in this passage about how life is fueled by vision, while a lack of life is fueled by fear. I’ve said this in many poor ways over the years. King says it much better. Here it is for you.
You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid….You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…..You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand. Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.
Vision is life. Fear is death, whether you are still breathing or not. Thank you, Mr. King.