Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution

18 Feb

Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution

The link above is the audio file and below is an excerpt of a sermon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave at the National Cathedral on March 31, 1968.  The content is as applicable today, on many levels, as it was then.  In addition to the content he provides, just hearing his voice, his rhythm, his oratory style is enthralling to me.  Please see the questions below for your replies or comments.

How does this excerpt speak to you?

How is his sentiment applicable to today?

What does this have to do with education?

I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here this morning, to have the opportunity of standing in this very great and significant pulpit. And I do want to express my deep personal appreciation to Dean Sayre and all of the cathedral clergy for extending the invitation.

It is always a rich and rewarding experience to take a brief break from our day-to-day demands and the struggle for freedom and human dignity and discuss the issues involved in that struggle with concerned friends of goodwill all over our nation. And certainly it is always a deep and meaningful experience to be in a worship service. And so for many reasons, I’m happy to be here today.

I would like to use as a subject from which to preach this morning: “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” The text for the morning is found in the book of Revelation. There are two passages there that I would like to quote, in the sixteenth chapter of that book: “Behold I make all things new; former things are passed away.”

I am sure that most of you have read that arresting little story from the pen of Washington Irving entitled “Rip Van Winkle.” The one thing that we usually remember about the story is that Rip Van Winkle slept twenty years. But there is another point in that little story that is almost completely overlooked. It was the sign in the end, from which Rip went up in the mountain for his long sleep.

When Rip Van Winkle went up into the mountain, the sign had a picture of King George the Third of England. When he came down twenty years later the sign had a picture of George Washington, the first president of the United States. When Rip Van Winkle looked up at the picture of George Washington—and looking at the picture he was amazed—he was completely lost. He knew not who he was.

And this reveals to us that the most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle is not merely that Rip slept twenty years, but that he slept through a revolution. While he was peacefully snoring up in the mountain a revolution was taking place that at points would change the course of history—and Rip knew nothing about it. He was asleep. Yes, he slept through a revolution. And one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.

There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution: that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place. And there is still the voice crying through the vista of time saying, “Behold, I make all things new; former things are passed away.”

Now whenever anything new comes into history it brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. And I would like to deal with the challenges that we face today…

Click Here for Full Sermon Text

One Response to “Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution”

  1. Mary Lou Donahoe February 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Martin Luther King was a visionary. His words are as inspiring today as when they were originally spoken over 50 years ago. We cannot sleep through the technological revolution taking place in our own time. We cannot close our classroom doors to change while our students/society continues to evolve.

    The Luddites were a group of early 19th century English workers that attempted to forestall the industrial revolution by destroying the powered looms (the new technology of their time) which required that they learn to work in new ways. Their counterrevolution was completely unsuccessful. They resisted, but the change (The Industrial Revolution) happened without them. They were eventually left behind as another minor footnote in history.

    When it comes to technology, the “Borg” (Star Trek – The Next Generation) had it right! “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” We stand at an exceptional moment as educators we must either embrace the change or suffer because of the change. We must choose the best path for our 21st Century students .

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