The Martin Luther King holiday often features stills and videos of Dr. King delivering his “I Have a Dream” during the March on Washington in 1963. And it is a brilliant speech.
But it is not his only brilliant speech. Dr. King, of course, delivered many more.
Since Norway has been in the news in the United States and around the world lately, (and January 15 is Dr. King’s actual birthday) today is the perfect day to present Dr. King’s Nobel acceptance speech and lecture.
In both the acceptance speech and lecture, he both indicts an unjust society while remaining boldly optimistic that it can change. It is quite the balancing act.
It is a balancing act that we are still trying to achieve: overcoming our “moral and spiritual lag” by choosing and embracing love.
(Recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize are selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The committee members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. Dr. King was the youngest recipient of the award at the time.)
A few excerpts. First, from his acceptance speech:
Last night, I watched a segment on Aung San Suu Kyi on 60 Minutes. She seems to personify “grace under pressure.” She is straightforward, not a firebrand.
But she has a spine of steel. The words “determination” and “resolve” somehow seem inadequate.
I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly brave–I used to be frightened of the dark when I was small. And I’m not very good with dead rats and things like that. But I face what has to be faced and I hope as best as I’m able. –Aung San Suu Kyi (Emphasis mine.)
After all, she endured for nearly two decades as a political prisoner under house arrest. Indeed, it took years to accept in person the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her in 1991.
She will need to keep counting on that determination and resolve as her country faces serious challenges: upcoming elections, treatment of the Rohingya minority, poverty.
Most of us will not bear the burden of responsible national leadership, yet we have obstacles to overcome all the same.
This week, let’s find the courage to face whatever challenges us in life, and do so as best we are able. And know that we can do it.
As I often say from the saddle in the cycle classes I lead, “We got this!”