If you can work in such a way that the process will be pleasurable enough that even if nothing comes of it, the work is an end in and of itself—then you’ll be ok. It’s not a means to an end, the work is an end.”
[The crucifix] stood there, crowning the rock, as it still stands on so many highway sides, vainly preaching to passers-by, an emblem of sad and noble truths: that pleasure is not an end, but an accident; that pain is the choice of the magnanimous; that it is best to suffer all things and do well.”
Never before had I so realized the miracle of the continued race, the creation and recreation, the weaving and changing and handing down a fleshly elements. That a child should be born of its mother, that it should grow and clothe itself (we know not how) with humanity, and put on inherited looks, and turn its head with the manner of one ascendant, and offer its hand with a gesture of another, are wonders dulled for us by repetition.”
Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all, for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
During the ’60s, the great majority of us accepted the way of peace, the way of love, the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living. There’s something cleansing, something wholesome about being peaceful and orderly, to stand up with a sense of dignity, and a sense of pride, and never hate. And Dr. King said over and over again, ‘Hate is too heavy a burden to bear.’ The way of love is a much better way.
And that’s what we did…Yes, I was beaten, left bloody and unconscious. But I never became bitter or hostile, never gave up. I believe that somehow and some way if it becomes necessary to use our bodies to help redeem the soul of a nation, then we must do it. Create a society at peace with itself, and lay down the burden of hate and division. Dr. King would say, violence and evil, it must stop someplace along the way, and we became disciples of the movement. Disciples of Martin Luther King, Jr., and of the great teacher, to do what we could to leave our society better than we found it.”
Of course I have been writing as though society was an organism in which people were in harmony with each other, in which they cooperated with each other and in which they were not waging wars of aggression against each other and were not in conflict with each other. But in actual fact and in terms of human history such harmony has not been the case.
In human history, we see that society has been broken up into classes, into antagonistic ethnic and economic groups that struggle against each other for survival as each sees it. They enslave each other and make their living at the expense of other groups, special interest groups are formed, etc. So that in reality we have to look at our own situation, have to look at the situation that exists in the economic base in terms of the class struggle, also in terms of the ethnic struggles that have gone on.”