The audacity to believe

Do you live in San Francisco? Or, have you ever been there, for a conference, perhaps, or a holiday? (since the games industry’s biggest annual conference takes place in downtown SF, literally adjacent to and physically underneath the memorial)

Have you been to the Martin Luther King memorial?

No, not the famous one(s) elsewhere that are all over the web in arguments and rantings about costs etc. I mean the small, quiet, semi-secret one hidden in the heart of San Francisco, in the Yerba Buena Gardens.

Last year, in the run up to the election, I happened to go there, and reading the many inscriptions on the walls I found several to be disturbingly (and resonantly) apposite today – perhaps in some ways even more so than when they were first spoken. Plus, at the time, there was the added poignancy that Americans *might* have been about to vote in the first non-“white” President of the United States of America. Afterwards, I wanted to see the context of each quote, so when I got back to England I went on the internet and tried to find a list of the quotes on the memorial.

Internet says: “no”

Despite hours of searching (at the time), and link following, etc, my Google-Fu was not enough – I couldn’t find a record anywhere (by now there may be a list somewhere?). So, I promised myself that next time I went back to SF, I’d either transcribe or photograph each of the individual quotes myself, and put them online. Here you go:

Transcriptions

In no particular order…

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

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro Spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will; and he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you; but I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.

There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom. It is worth paying for; it is worth going to jail for. I would rather die in abject poverty with my convictions than live in inordinate riches with the lack of self-respect.

Through our scientific genius, we have made this world a neighbourhood; now, through our moral and spiritual development, we must make of it a brotherhood. In a real sense, we must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.

As the movement took hold, a revival of social awareness spread across campuses from Cambridge to California. It spilled over the boundaries of the single issue of desegregation and encompassed questions of peace, civil liberties, capital punishment and others.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

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.

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred men have torn down men other-centered can build up.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression; and out of the wombs of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are raising up as never before.

Men for years have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer the choice between violence and non-violence in this world. It’s non-violence or non-existence.

We must rapidly shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

(the quality of photos is very poor because … well, because of reasons that are obvious if you go visit the memorial yourself. And most/all of it seems deliberate. I only had a compact Nikon on me – anyone with a fat DSLR and a tripod is welcome to go back and take better photos the next time they’re there?)

NB: the first time I went to the memorial, I found it disappointing and irritatingly unfriendly. The second time I went, it made a lot more sense.

One thought on “The audacity to believe

  1. Kevin Gadd

    I love that memorial. Visiting it during one of the quieter parts of the day was one of my favorite parts of my first GDC visit. Thanks for transcribing it on the web.

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