There is a lot to choose from when picking 10 inspiring Martin Luther King Jr quotes.
As a champion of nonviolent activism in the Civil Right Movement, MLK’s soaring speeches and thought-provoking writings still resonate today.
That’s because words matter.
They have the power to inspire, shape our thoughts and opinions, lift us up or drag us down.
Here are 10 inspiring Martin Luther King Jr quotes which call forth the best version of ourselves:
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
That’s a more elegant way of saying “It’s not all about you”.
In our me-centered, inwardly focused culture these days, it seems that we forget that, like it or not, we’re all in this together.
“This” can mean pretty much everything – this family, this workplace, this community, this little blue planet.
Why is this important to remember?
Well that leads to the next MLK quote:
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Call it the ripple effect or whatever you like.
The truth is our actions have consequences.
In every interaction we have, we either make things better or worse.
Too often we choose what serves us best without considering the short or long term implications.
I’m not suggesting that we constantly sacrifice our own needs for some greater good.
I’m simply proposing that we factor in the impact of our thoughts and words and actions rather than functioning on auto-pilot all the time.
Which means that sometimes we have to do the right thing even when it’s hard.
MKL warns us:
There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.
You know that little voice that tells you what the right, or fair, or moral thing is to do.
Or maybe it’s a feeling in your gut that says this not that.
But sometimes we ignore those messages and choose to listen to that other little voice in our head that gives us 101 reasons why doing what’s right is too hard or inconvenient or too costly in some fashion.
Of course it’s easy to do the right thing when it’s easy.
MLK reminds us that:
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.
It’s when it’s tough that we put our character on full display through our choices.
Good intentions are great, but they become meaningless without action.
The Dalai Lama says it this way:
“It’s not enough to be compassionate. We must act.”
So what is the ultimate impact of not doing the right thing or speaking up?
MLK puts it bluntly:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Whether that’s about big things in the world, or in our day to day life.
And it’s not just speaking up – although that’s a good start – it’s about aligning actions with words.
You gotta put your money where your mouth is.It's not enough to say something is important or matters. Our actions have to show that we mean what we say. Click To Tweet
It’s not enough to say something is important or matters.
Our actions have to show that we mean what we say.
That starts with simple choices we make each day
If your health is important, take steps to protect it.
If family matters, then show it.
Ya I know.
MLK has some advice for that too:
If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
Progress is made one step at a time.
Sure a big leap is great if you are willing and able.
But teeny tiny steps taken consistently still get you there.
The pace is far less important than whether you are facing the right direction and moving forward.
And when you feel like it’s tough slogging, it might be time for a perspective shift:
Only in the darkness can you see the stars.
If things were never hard, we wouldn’t know what easy felt like.
It’s that good old yin-yang principle – you gotta have both the light and the dark, the easy and the hard, the up and the down.
One gives the other meaning.
One balances the other.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
No matter where you find yourself though – up, down, in, out, good, bad, there is a path that leads in the right direction.
When in doubt, choose love.
MLK sounds pretty confident when he says:
I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems.
That’s starts with love for yourself and whatever problems you might be experiencing.
Be kinder, gentler, more compassionate, more loving with yourself, and I bet solutions begin to reveal themselves.
And it brings us back to where we started.
It’s not enough to address our individualistic concerns.
It’s not enough to have self-love.
We have to widen our view to all humanity.
Bring that kinder, gentler, more compassionate, more loving approach to the world.
Start with something simple – love your neighbour.
I get it.
Although it might be simple, it sure might not be easy.
But with that first step then the future looks bright.
So here’s the most inspiring invitation of all these Martin Luther King Jr quotes:
We must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.
Fly, run, walk, crawl.
Choose the right thing, the sometimes difficult thing and move forward.
Hope audaciously for that dream MLK had of a better world.