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The World in Which We Live

Thomas Whitley

In honor of today being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and because of how busy I am, I am copying below a post I wrote last year on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s death. It was originally posted 4 April 2008.

For those who do not know, today is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s death. Most of us are familiar with the work of MLK and, hopefully, we respect his work. He was indeed the type of man that we need more of in our world. He had his shortcomings as we all do, but he spoke with wisdom words that must be heard. I have been reading his speech, “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence” and came across something quite profound. Part of his speech is pasted below:

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?” “Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.



The last line struck me hard and I began to think. Do I truly know the world that I live in? Do those around me truly know the world that we live in? True, times are different from what they were in 1967 when MLK gave this speech, but much is the same. Do I know how much injustice is in my world? Do I know how many children die of starvation each week? Do I know that 84% of the world lives on less than $10,066 a year? Do I know that more than 1 billion people live on less than U.S. $1 a day? Do I know that there are 781 million illiterate adults worldwide and that 64% of them are women? Do I know that more than 6 million children die from malnutrition yearly? Do I know that there is genocide going on in Darfur? Do I know who is working against these evils? Do I know the good work that the United Nations is doing? Do I know how much inequality still exists not only in our world, but in our churches and our homes? Do I truly know the world in which I live? Do you know the world in which you live?

I am not saying that we should all go out and protest the current war because that’s what MLK did. I am simply saying that we need to get to know the world we live in. Our world is in desperate need of redemption. True, we need redemption in the form of salvation, but we need so much more than that as well. We need to care for all of creation the way that God does. The world has a deep need and we have the resources necessary to not only alleviate, but to erase the need and the pain and yet we do nothing about it. On this anniversary on MLK’s death let us remember him for sure, but let us also reflect. Let us see our world for what it really is. The facts are gloomy and can be disheartening, but we can offer hope.

Here are some sites that you should check out:

Note: Statistics taken from Compassion.



I hope that today is meaningful for you as you remember Dr. King and other personal heroes you may have.