“Peace and civil rights don’t mix. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people? When I hear such questions, I have been greatly saddened for they mean that my inquirers have never really known me, my commitment, or my calling.” These were words that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recalled being spoken to him by many who questioned his decision to publicly oppose the government’s policy regarding the Vietnam War. He wrote of this in his book, The Trumpet of Conscience.
The Trumpet of Conscience is a compilation of five lectures that Dr. King gave at the invitation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) during November and December 1967 for the renowned Massey Lecture Series. Canada has had a long historical relationship with African-Americans throughout the period of slavery in the United States. It was the destination point for countless slaves brave enough to escape to “Heaven” (the code name for Canada).
Each chapter is dedicated to a lecture in which Dr. King shared his thoughts on nonviolent protests and civil disobedience, the Vietnam War, as well as the role young people (black and white) could/would play in shaping the “new” America. These subjects of his talks still resonate today. Equally profound is that America is still embroiled in similar circumstances today, some 47 years later. In the five talked he discussed:
- Race Relations – How much progress has really taken place for African-Americans since 1967?
- Conscience of the Vietnam War – Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran…the names of the wars have changed, but the casualties, sentiments and consequences for many Americans remain the same.
- Youth and Social Action – Young people are still struggling to adapt themselves to the prevailing values of our society.
- Nonviolence and Social Change – Is this still an effective way to heighten awareness about change or an injustice?
- A Christmas Sermon on Peace – His message was that in order to have peace on earth “our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation.” Is this still confined to a sermon or have we taken it out of the church with our actions?
Each lecture teaches you that there is so little we know and so much more we have the opportunity to learn if we are ever going to get this “peace thing” right. Dr. King believed that peace was the common thread and “that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.”
THOUGHTS for your SOUL:
- “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”
- “Growth requires connection and trust. Alienation is a form of living death. It is the acid of despair that dissolves society.
- “When an individual is no longer a true participant, when he no longer feels a sense of responsibility to his society, the content of democracy is emptied.”
This book encourages you to do more and be more than you are today. Each one of us has the opportunity to be a hero/heroine because “our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter.”
Let’s BOND over Books rates The Trumpet of Conscience as EASY & ENGAGING (150 pages of less).