This week, the world remembers the 50 Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. As powerful as that speech was, Dr. King’s speech at Riverside Church (“Beyond Vietnam”) in New York on April 4, 1967 speaks to the fierce urgency of NOW.
…A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of
poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas 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 South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western
arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn
from them is not just.
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way
in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent
us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence
over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant
status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.
These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old
systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world,
new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot
people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.
A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must
become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an
overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their
This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond
one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and
unconditional love for all mankind.
We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are
confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life
and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the
thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost
If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords
of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the
right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the
world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty