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What is the meaning of this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.? "We must accept finite...

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user2185617 | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 14, 2013 at 11:39 PM via web

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What is the meaning of this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.?

"We must accept finite disappointment but must never lose infinite hope."

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 14, 2013 at 11:52 PM (Answer #1)

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There are two aspects to this quote.

First, there is a way of looking at this from the perspective of the Civil Rights Movement.  As King led this movement, he was aware of the fact that there would be setbacks.  There was no way that the white leaders in the South would simply give African Americans the rights they wanted.  It was also unlikely that everything the movement did would work just as it was supposed to.  There would be disappointments along the way.  Hopefully, though, these disappointments would be short-lived; they would be “finite.”  Therefore, people should not lose hope in the idea that they would eventually win their ultimate (“infinite”) goals.

Second, since King was a minister, there is a religious way of looking at this quote as well.  For a religious person like King, the phrase “infinite hope” should conjure up ideas of eternal life.  This quote can also be interpreted to mean, then, that King wants to remind us that setbacks on Earth are temporary and that we should not lose sight of the fact that we should be hoping for an infinite and eternal reward in the afterlife.


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