Sunday, November 11, 2012

Quote Sunday

This week in my religion class we read MLK's last speech, commonly known as the "I've been to the mountaintop" speech. I cannot read this speech without crying, and the video is even worse. It's just so beautiful, and so full of moments that inspire me. I think this one is probably my favorite MLK speech. This time when I read it, the thing that stuck out to me the most was King's analysis of the parable of the Good Samaritan. He talks about the priest and the Levite with great sympathy, giving many reasons they might not have stopped. He talks about being on the road to Jericho himself, and understanding that it was a good setting for this parable because it was so dangerous. And then he says this:
The first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaratin came by, and he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
King fights against the human tendency to be selfish. Earlier in the speech he challenges people to develop a "dangerous unselfishness." It actually reminds me a lot of David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water". I kinda think that the Good Samaratin's second question was "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" Maybe it really is the moments of small decisions that determine a person. I don't know. I think of people I consider to be heroes, and each one of them is exceptional because they have, to certain extents, overcome human nature's deep-seeded selfishness. Which is kinda damning. But I also think that many people fight it. And that fills me with hope, because I know that selfless, good people exist and move through the world, more often quietly than with Nobel Peace Prizes. I just think that's beautiful.

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Day 11: Today I am grateful for the moments of fearlessness and the 20 seconds of courage that it takes to start the ball rolling.

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