A good time to do right.

Martin Luther King Jr., writing from teh Birmingham City jail in April of 1963, mused a little on time:

I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of goodwill. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy, and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

I was thinking on this as I approach my 45th birthday and as I was thinking about my beautiful 16 year old daughter and my spirited 12 year old son.  Coming back today from a glorious gathering of leaders from the new world of community, one might say “rock stars of the new consciousness” in Petaluma California, I was thinking about the way I want my children to use their time on this earth.  What came to mind was the Mary Oliver quote: “Tell me what you will do with your one wild and precious life.”

And of course they can’t tell me what they will do, because the work my children will do hasn’t been invented yet.  But if there was some advice for them lurking out in the ether, it would probably be in that King quote.

This is a good time to do right..


  1. The phrase that sticks out to me in that speech is ‘ill will’. I always took that as meaning ‘will to do wrong’, malevolence. But the word also means ‘sick’. And that is not homophonic but an intertwined meaning. Right and wrong may be subjective but sickness and health are states.
    Sickness is not more active in the world that health, but the scars that it creates are more evident.

  2. Me too…that is actually the phrase that caught my eye about this quote.

  3. I too will share this with my kids Chris.

    As we travel around our vast country, I am witnessing my boys ‘notice’ the things that need fixing in the environment and in some of the communities we visit. I am hearing them express desires to change things with their own wild, precious life!