Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh. (Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr., p. 152)
Today, the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we will be treated to speeches and essays galore. I dread some of them. In my lifetime, his words have been chopped up and re-formed so many times over that I wonder if my children really know what he was talking about. Go back to the source: his own words.
What would he have said about abortion? I can do no better than speculate. When I read his words about nonviolence, though, I am confident that he would recognize the deaths of tens of millions of children as a civil rights disaster of the highest order. He wouldn’t neglect the link between poverty and abandonment by one or another parent. He would know that race and income are irrelevant to the innate dignity of a child.
I have no doubt that he and I would probably disagree on some policy prescriptions. His words, though, leave no room for condoning violence in the womb.