Recent events of violence and hatred are so disheartening. In the wake of the pipe bombs targeting Democratic Party leaders and supporters, the killing of two African Americans in Louisville, Kentucky, and the horrific murder of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, we are deeply saddened. Given such depressing events, it’s easy to imagine that there are intractable mountains of despair looming over our lives and casting dark shadows over the future of our nation.

Searching for a way forward and needing a word of hope, I turned to a sermon delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. at Temple Israel of Hollywood on Feb. 26, 1965. In his sermon to the Jewish congregation, titled “Moving from this Mountain,” King spoke of the symbolic mountains that we as a nation have occupied for long enough and from which we must move on toward “the promised land of justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

The first symbolic mountain King mentions is the mountain of materialism. This is the mountain that causes individuals to live as if material values are the highest values and concerns in life. Materialism — the unchecked desire for more money, larger houses and a greater abundance of things — can leave us morally bankrupt. King declared, “Through our scientific genius, we made of the world a neighborhood, but we failed through moral commitment to make of it a brotherhood, and so we’ve ended up with guided missiles and misguided men.” If we as a nation are to become what King called “the beloved community,” we must move beyond the mountain of materialism.

Yet another mountain that our nation has occupied for far too long is the mountain of racial injustice. King wrote, “Somehow we must come to see more than ever before that racial injustice is a cancer in the body politic which must be removed before our moral health can be realized.” Since King uttered those words in 1965, there has been a great deal of progress. It’s thus easy to be lulled into thinking that the cancer of racism has been eradicated from the body politic — or at least is in remission. But then the cancer of racial intolerance reappears in the form of hate speech, police brutality, a criminal justice system that unfairly punishes African American men and so on. Likewise, anti-Semitism continues to cast a shadow over our nation and beyond, a shadow that became a dark night of violence last Saturday. The mountain of intolerance has towered over our nation for far too long.

In his sermon, King also spoke of other mountains, which he named the mountains of indifference, violence and hate. Yet in spite of these great challenges, King was adamant in believing that all these mountains of despair will be overcome. He declared, “And I believe it because somehow the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice … With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

Isn’t that a word we can all use in such perilous times? May it be said that each of us in our own way has the faith and the courage “to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

Searching for a way forward and needing a word of hope, I turned to a sermon delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. at Temple Israel of Hollywood on Feb. 26, 1965. In his sermon to the Jewish congregation, titled “Moving from this Mountain,” King spoke of the symbolic mountains that we as a nation have occupied for long enough and from which we must move on toward “the promised land of justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

The first symbolic mountain King mentions is the mountain of materialism.  This is the mountain that causes individuals to live as if material values are the highest values and concerns in life. Materialism — the unchecked desire for more money, larger houses and a greater abundance of things — can leave us morally bankrupt. King declared, “Through our scientific genius, we made of the world a neighborhood, but we failed through moral commitment to make of it a brotherhood, and so we’ve ended up with guided missiles and misguided men.” If we as a nation are to become what King called “the beloved community,” we must move beyond the mountain of materialism.

Yet another mountain that our nation has occupied for far too long is the mountain of racial injustice. King wrote, “Somehow we must come to see more than ever before that racial injustice is a cancer in the body politic which must be removed before our moral health can be realized.” Since King uttered those words in 1965, there has been a great deal of progress. It’s thus easy to be lulled into thinking that the cancer of racism has been eradicated from the body politic — or at least is in remission. But then the cancer of racial intolerance reappears in the form of hate speech, police brutality, a criminal justice system that unfairly punishes African American men and so on. Likewise, anti-Semitism continues to cast a shadow over our nation and beyond, a shadow that became a dark night of violence last Saturday. The mountain of intolerance has towered over our nation for far too long.

In his sermon, King also spoke of other mountains, which he named the mountains of indifference, violence, and hate. Yet in spite of these great challenges, King was adamant in believing that all these mountains of despair will be overcome. He declared, “And I believe it because somehow the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice … With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

Isn’t that a word we can all use in such perilous times? May it be said that each of us in our own way has the faith and the courage “to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

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