Tension and strife

“The road to freedom is a difficult, hard road. It always makes for temporary setbacks. And those people who tell you today that there is more tension in Montgomery than there has ever been are telling you right. Whenever you get out of Egypt, you always confront a little tension, you always confront a little temporary setback. If you didn’t confront that you’d never get out.
You must remember that the tensionless period that we like to think of was the period when the Negro was complacently adjusted to segregation, discrimination, insult, and exploitation. And the period of tension is the period when the Negro has decided to rise up and break loose from that. And this is the peace that we are seeking: not an old negative obnoxious peace which is merely the absence of tension, but a positive, lasting peace, which is the presence of brotherhood and justice. And it is never brought about without this temporary period of tension. The road to freedom is difficult.”—Martin Luther King

This is one of my favorite MLK quotes (I know I’ve referenced it before). One of the reasons our society isn’t further along toward attaining brotherhood and justice is that so many people don’t want to sit through that “temporary period of tension.” They want unity, even when “unity” just means saying nothing about injustice. Or at least injustice that doesn’t affect respectable outwardly straight WASP males.

And of course, some people simply like the system as it is. The issue isn’t tension, it’s the thought of people actually challenging their entitled, privileged right to rule over the rest of us.

Working for “positive, lasting peace” is hard.  But it has to be done.

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