“The Other America”
a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered at Stanford University, April 14, 1967.
I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
23Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
8He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
When, in this speech, Dr. King says, “I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air.” King was referring to the prophetic message of 8th century prophets like Amos and Micah (above), who counseled a broken and divided nation (Israel) that the path to peace was social justice.
The same Word is spoken to us today in the wake of the riots and is as applicable for us today as it was in the 8th century B.C., and the 1960’s. There is not a political path nor enough jails to secure the peace. Peace and justice flows from a love of God and one’s neighbor. If not Dr., Kings words, maybe the prophets words will help us find that theological path to peace as we who love God and our neighbor speak it again to the world today. .
Let justice flow like streams
of sparkling water, pure,
enabling growth, refreshing life,
abundant, cleansing, sure.
Let righteousness roll on
as others’ cares we heed,
an ever-flowing stream of faith
translated into deed.
So may God’s plumb line, straight,
define our measure true,
and justice, right, and peace pervade
this world our whole life through.
Text: Jane Parker Huber, b. 1926
Text © 1984 Jane Parker Huber, admin. Westminster John Knox Press