[From Emily Ling for Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, Boston]

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech continues to carry important
wisdom for current times. Consider the following key quotes from the speech and
reflection questions to nurture consideration for how to bring King’s legacy into relevant
action today.
Key Quote: “When the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the
case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by
uncertainty; but we must move on.”
Reflection Question 1: How might our faith traditions help us to press on even when
present conditions are perplexing and there is much uncertainty about how to move
forward?
Key Quote: “The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the
American spirit.”
Reflection Question 2: What maladies within the American spirit are at the heart of the
current social unrest and what is the role of our faith communities in healing those
ailments?
Key Quote: “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world
revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values… We must
rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered
more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and
militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Reflection Question 3: How do we act to re-orient our communities, our institutions,
and our political discourse to value the wellbeing of all people more than we value
increased prosperity? How might such an orientation help overcome the continued
vices of racism, materialism, and militarism?
Key Quote: “The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others
and nothing to learn from them is not just.”
Reflection Question 4: What can other countries and cultures teach us about how to
practice goodwill, establish justice, and build Beloved Community? How can we be
engaging in conversations with the international community so that we are able to
learn from the wisdom of other communities?
Key Quote: “A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war,
‘This way of settling differences is not just.’… A nation that continues year after year
to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is
approaching spiritual death.”
Reflection Question 5: How might improving our spiritual health change the priorities
that we support in public policy and government spending?
Key Quote: “This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond
one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and
unconditional love for all [human]kind… When I speak of love I am not speaking of
some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just
emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen
as the supreme unifying principle of life.”
Reflection Question 6: How can our religious traditions teach us how to cultivate
unconditional love for all humanity in ways that empower strong and courageous
worldwide fellowship?
Key Quote: “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… Now let us begin. Now
let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new
world.”
Reflection Question 7: If creating a new world requires compassion, morality, and
vision, what can we do to grow those qualities in our ourselves and in future
generations?