11 Inspirational Quotes By Martin Luther King

Ever wonder why we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the third Monday of January? Well, the official reason is very simply that King’s birthday was on January 15th, but really what better humanitarian could there be to celebrate as we prepare ourselves for a whole new calendar year? Martin Luther King, one of the most influential people in the history of our nation, was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968, and almost fifty years after his death, his message of peace, human community, and an end to racial suffering in a supposedly ‘free’ society still echoes strong, despite the still present racial struggles of modern times.

A Baptist minister from Georgia, King became a leading pioneer in the American Civil Rights Movement, stressing nonviolent civil disobedience as a form of peaceful protest in conjunction with his Christian faith. He was involved in such protests as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, where he delivered his famous I Have A Dream speech, and the protest march between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. He was also a strong opponent of the American Vietnam effort, and was planning another campaign on Washington when he was killed in 1968. To honor King’s message of peace and brotherhood, President Reagan signed MLK Day into law in 1986. As you go forward into your New Year, remember these 12 humanitarian quotes by Martin Luther King, and do your best to live a more virtuous and selfless New Year.

1. “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Never turn down an opportunity to do good, even if it means condemning your self.

2. “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'”

This New Year, try to do a few self-less acts each week or month. It not only builds character, but it also helps those who really need a helping hand.

3. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”

If Martin Luther King, or Gandhi, or even Jesus Christ knew that their speaking for what is right and just would lead to their deaths, they likely would still have gone on preaching anyway. We can never know what the consequences of our actions are, but if we act selflessly and with good intent, we can rest assured that we are doing what is right.

4. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

We haven’t perished yet, so I suppose there is still hope, but we could definitely afford a little more effort.

5. “That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

It may be human nature to want revenge against those who have wronged us, but revenge ultimately does not undo the past or make right the future. We must all learn to forgive and to forget if we are to move forward.

6. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

No one is perfect. We are all victims of emotions like love, lust, hate, and greed, but we are also afforded opportunities to rise above these emotions, and to act for the greater good.

7. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

When shit hits the fan, some guys run, and some guys stay. What will you do?

8. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

It might seem like a paradox to love your enemy as a friend, but love is a powerful emotion. If we remain open to it, who knows what we can really accomplish?

9. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Martin Luther King never accepted the notion that we are an innately hateful species, and as long as there is racism in the world, we can never allow ourselves to believe it either.

10. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Evil begets evil, and goodness begets goodness. If we all make an effort to bring more goodness to the world, evil will slowly, but surely, die.

11. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Hope springs eternal, so long as we do not allow our failures to keep us down. This year, remember that nothing worth having (or achieving) is not first without failure, and never give up on working to accomplish your goals.