Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
More than seventy million human beings were uprooted, enslaved, or killed in the twentieth century alone. What happened to those victims? Is death—utter annihilation—their end? How should we appraise such wasting of human life? Considering such questions as these moves one to reflect on the significance of evil. Why does it exist? Where does it lead? Can evil be overcome?
Raising his voice against a world that wasted human life through racial hatred, poverty, and violence, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spent his life wrestling with those questions in word and deed. King outlined part of the problem of evil in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (April 16, 1963):Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Later, on August 28, 1963, King spoke at a massive civil rights rally in Washington, D.C. He proclaimed in his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech thatin spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its...
(The entire section is 1840 words.)
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