Instructor: L. Wallace
19 May 2014
Essay 1: Personal Response Essay
Fighting for One’s Destiny
Setbacks can be overcome throughout one’s life if they fight to preserve their morals and values by exhibiting a sense of emotional passion for a meaningful cause. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail, King expresses his attitude about the lack of civil rights among African Americans to a group of White clergymen. King displays this emotional passion by “break[ing] a law that conscience tells him is unjust… and [he] willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment…”(King 216). Despite the loss of personal freedoms, King breaks through societal limitations placed on Negroes, and acts in a respective manner to do what is morally right. The pursuit of happiness is difficult to obtain. However, if one maintains a sense of strong will, acts in a just manner, and does not conform to the world’s expectations, then justice will prevail.
King reveals a sense of strong willingness to exhibit his beliefs and uphold his moral values. Throughout communities across the globe, individuals have the tendency to only oblige by laws because they have a legal responsibility. However, King emphasizes a significant point that “one has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws” (215). Often times, people only pertain to the legal aspect of following just laws and do not stand up for the moral values behind them. King expresses a strong emotional standpoint by explaining what African Americans endure throughout their daily lives. This truly captures one’s attention, because various individuals can relate to the feeling of “living constantly at tiptoe stance” (215). Growing up, I felt as though I was put on the back burner a lot in my family. I became very independent at a young age, and felt a “degenerating sense of “nobodiness” (215). Sustaining a strong will requires one to maintain emotional control regardless of all the tension that progressively builds. King discusses this tension in depth and “creates the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice…” (214). King understands that a route to justice needs to be taken, and calls for a progressive society in which civil rights are equal for all individuals.
On the other hand, King acts in a just manner in the face of despair. He writes this letter in such a way that people will admire and value his opinions. After all, his message did get across and this letter is viewed as a representative piece in American history. King does not lash out at the White clergymen, instead, he apologizes at the end of his letter if he had “said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience” (223). It takes a lot of calamity to behave in such a professional way after all of the hardships he and his people had suffered. King did not use violence to get his message across; rather, he used nonviolent direct action. This is a wise strategy, because “it will inevitably open the door to negotiation” (214). King’s words are so profound due to the emphasis on logical precision and his explanations for why African Americans must precipitate nonviolent direct action. His explanation is meant to accomplish a “creative psalm of brotherhood” (218).
Today’s society is known for conforming to the world’s expectations. It is unfortunate that individuals move along with the status quo. However, King does not follow society in what was his current situation. He makes a convincing argument that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (213). Justice