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Letter to the Editor: MLK's wisdom, advice are just as important now

Saturday, January 24, 2004

To the editor:

On Martin Luther King Day I listened to his oration of "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" delivered April 4, 1967. It is his least well-known speech. I would like to share a few quotes (somewhat paraphrased) that are quite relevant today. Although the circumstances today differ from those in the speech, his wisdom and advice are just as important now.

"Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

"... A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

"War is not the answer. ... We must not call everyone a [terrorist] ... who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problems of these turbulent days. ... We must find new ways to speak for peace. ... If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight."

May his words forever guide us.

JENNIFER L. BALSMAN

Perryville, Mo.