“Haidt, Graham, and Brian Nosek have defined five moral concerns. There is the fairness/reciprocity concern, involving issues of equal and unequal treatment. There is the harm/care concern, which includes things like empathy and concern for the suffering of others. There is an authority/respect concern. Human societies have their own hierarchies, and react with moral outrage when that which they view with reverence (including themselves) is not treated with proper respect. There is a purity/disgust concern. The disgust module may have first developed to repel us from noxious or unsafe food, but it evolved to have a moral component… Finally, and most problematically, there is the in-group/loyalty concern.” -David Brooks
Martin Luther King, Jr. advanced racial equality, elimination of poverty, and reversal of a militaristic state through nonviolent civil disobedience. This moral means towards moral ends requires us to realize our intimate interrelatedness, and to love each human being regardless of our physical appearance, the institutions of which we are a part, what someone believes, how we behave, or any other attribute which propagates an “us” versus “them.” How can you love the person when you hate the deed? In honor of this persistent and urgent philosophy, here are King’s own words on the issue from a 1963 speech at the Western Michigan University. Consider the political and sociological intentions, as well as the possible personal and clinical applications, of this call to action.
“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Every person must decide, at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 11, 1957