A sentiment that comes to mind as winter lingers, with the expectation of spring waiting beyond the horizon. The same might apply to politics and culture in the United States, dominated as it is by antagonism. For now, patience in tribulation more closely fits our predicament.
When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus
When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.
Dr. Martin Luther King infused the spiritual into American politics as no one else has–at least since Lincoln. His “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on this date in 1963 was one of the great uplifting moments in American history. “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” King told the assembled crowd.
Before he became widely known, Dr. King addressed a church congregation in my home town of Detroit, and explained how faith inspired his political vision.
“There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong,” he told a Detroit congregation in 1954. “The great problem facing modern man,” he said, “is that . . . the means by which we live have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live. . . . The problem is with man himself and man’s soul.”
Those words illuminate our current political culture with a light that is sadly lacking in today’s discourse.