The significance of Martin Luther’s letter from his Birmingham state jail was not an ordinary address over the state of affairs or writing to indicate the state of wellbeing in custody. He was quick to emphasize confidently that the reason for writing the letter was not in response to criticism but to the injustice, which was persistent in Birmingham. The reason Martin Luther as the leader of Southern Christian Conference found himself in jail was due to participating in a non-violent direct action involvement.
The letter is a strong response in support of the role of activists in delivering freedom for the people. He also brings out the importance of recognizing need for interrelated states and societies, by presenting the mission of enhancing justice, as a request from affiliated religious groups in Birmingham.
The writer strongly points out that existence of injustice at a certain place is an indirect threat of existing justice in other places. Martin Luther was concern with interrelation of state and justice for all. One clear indication is that people are in a mutually connected system focusing on a single destiny and there is no escape other than focusing on the anticipatable destiny.
The letter clearly indicates how the states disapprove demonstrations but administration lacks concern thus fails to substantiate the required actions against the injustices. Injustice causes people to consider demonstrations such as those by the religious activists at Birmingham. The writing also brings out another side of the situations. Martin Luther’s letter is a response to alterations by fellow clergymen (Jackson, p.97).
He strongly points how the state authorities tongue-tie those in authority or religious leaders who are supposed to fight for other’s rights. They consequently end up failing to react accordingly. He robustly condemns the clergymen for accusations based on the effects of peaceful demonstrations rather than focusing and standing by the reasons that lead to such public reactions.
Comprehensible signals in support of non-violent actions such as the occurrences at Birmingham must first involve compilation of viable facts that clearly indicate existence of injustice, negotiation for change, personal purity on the matter and then direct action eventually if every action fails.
If the clergymen sat together and decided on the procedures as stated in the letter, then they were reacting unreasonably by segregating and allowing racial injustice in Birmingham. The writer also apparently outlines the negligence or unfairness of the courts due to the unjust treatment accorded to members of a certain race particularly the Black Americans (Jackson, p.87).
Just like the contemporary situation, most cases remain unsolved due to injustice or corruption. Segregation against some communities, ethnical or religious groups may persist due to lack of harmony between the leaders from the extreme ends. A good example in Martin Luther’s letter is the high rates of attacks on homes and churches of the Black American in Birmingham. The leaders of the blacks were willing to talk through the situation and solve the issues out of good faith, but faced repulsion (Jackson, p.87).
In relation to Jackson’s writing (p.88), Martin Luther’s letter from the Birmingham jail is a true reflection of current phenomenon where the minority suffer from uncared for requests and broken or empty promises by their leaders. He indicates in the letter how they pressed for elimination of the racial-segregating stores at Birmingham, but influents places a legal postponement of the fulfilments and obligations and eventually the implementation was evaded (Jackson, p.88).
Rules are often a clear legal agreement, but the authorities remain reluctant to react or implement the accord, therefore the same authorities partially implement and abandon the rules later or disregard the proposed rules without consultations.
Just as indicated, in the letter people react or demand through direct action due to shattered hopes and disappointments by their leaders (Jackson, p.88). Direct action means that demonstrators have only one option, that of physically presenting themselves to the authorities to trigger their cognisant that rules require implementation and application.
In the modern United States, one would expect that negotiations exist as the only procedures, thus no need for mass action. The peaceful direct action is an option for seeking or forcing unsuccessful negotiation or demands for the poorly implemented agreements. The action triggers need for negotiations through creation of tension or crisis. Activists plan for direct involvement by strategically finding the colluding instances, where crisis would arise and dramatise the situation for quick responses.
Like today’s activists, Martin Luther is in support of constructive non-violent form of tension that causes neutralization of racism and prejudice thus promoting brotherliness (Jackson, p.90). Tensions due to a crisis-packed situation often brings rise to negotiations and solutions. It is a wake-up call for the leaders to live in dialogue.
The clergy inquire why the action had to occur very soon, but from the letter, today people are able to apply similar form of reasoning whereby new administration need to act in a similar manner as the outgoing if not better. The tension created on a past regime must be consistent and thus incumbent administration must correspond similarly to the good administration of the past.
This is for the reason that most leaders are segregationists who aim at maintaining the status quo instead of administering change (Jackson, p.91). According to Jackson (p.91), the letter indicated that the privileged government personas rarely give up their privileges voluntarily.
The required freedom is achievable through demands from the oppressed not freewill of the oppressor. The leaders are fond of the word “Wait”, and the subsequent waits easily translate to different meaning primarily “Never.” In the contemporary administrative setting, justice delayed is justice denied. While other countries such as developing countries are speedily implementing new rules, the developed countries such as the U.S. have faced poor growth of political independence (Jackson, p.91).
In response to the allegations that activists who fight segregation are anxious and willing to break laws, the letter clarifies some effects of segregation such as fear. Prejudiced people live in fear of not knowing the probable outcome and live by intimidation. Such persons have inner apprehensions and outer bitterness in fight of ever-degenerating senses.
These situations compromise endurance and causes people to plummet into the abyss of despair, thus failure to practice patience when pleaded to wait. An aspect of waiting fails to resonate in such minds (Jackson, p.93).
The accused activists are actually protesting for adherence to the law by their leaders as opposed to breaking the law. According to Jackson (p.91), it is paradoxical for one to break a law while advocating for another. Today’s leaders must realize the existence of just and unjust regulations, and they are obligated to moral practices in support for justice for all and as a responsibly to disobey the unreasonable and unjustifiable rules.
In vindicating justice, Martin Luther puts a clear difference between just and unjust laws. Just is the human composed law that have a connection to the moral law, while the unjust codes or laws that are out of harmony and often fail to relate to the moral or God’s expectations, which is the natural form of law.
Justifiable form of rule has to uplift the soul and personality, thus giving any form of segregation inferiority effects and false senses. In accordance with Martin Luther’s letter, segregation is not only a political matter, but also a social wrong and an immoral act (Jackson, p.94).
As frequently evident in our current political systems, injustice occurs due to existence of code supported by majority but for the minority group to obey. This makes injustice different as an illegal act while just law is one, which majority compel to but minority follow through personal will. In this case, equality becomes legal (Jackson, p.95).
Leaders are implementing just laws on the outside while the same laws are unjust in the inside. Laws permit approved form of peaceful parades but they uphold segregation, by denying members of a certain group right to peacefully assemble and hold demonstrations.
The article is a clear indication that activists are people who break the unjust laws willingly, openly and are ready to accept any penalty that may arise because the aim is to arouse conscience of the community leaders over need to respect and practice justice.
Like the earlier religious faithful and political activists, peaceful demonstration is a common form of civil disobedience in modern U.S., where the protesters fight whenever moral law is at stake.
Socrates defied compliance to stipulated civil law because his conscience point out that the terms were against the divine law, which was more superior. The political laws are often contradicting moral principles and compromising human freedom. If the political principals compromise human faith, then it is fine to have an open advocacy for antireligious laws.
In comparison to the dated social settings, people currently still face more frustration from poor or superficial understanding by freewill as opposed to the absolute misunderstanding by those of ill will. Mere acceptance is thus more painful than clear rejection (Jackson, p.97).
In his letter, Martin Luther emphasized on the use and existence of the law for establishing justice. Failure to implement justice blocks flow of social progress. People have to accept the dignity and worthiness of human personality by un-hiding tension for justifiable action to take place.
The act of barring individuals from gaining basic constitutional rights for the reason that this would precipitate violence is punishing the dishonoured. The act of racial injustice is a solid block to social context of human dignity. The article shows support of excellent technique of non-violence procedures of protesting against injustice, which is practical and integral in today’s struggle for human rights (Jackson, p.101).
According to Jackson (p.110), oppression leads to segregation but it rarely remains that way forever. Currently, it is evident that non-violent actions for justice create the required tension when dialogue fails. It gives power to the activists to accept the label of extremists for the need to achieve good and preserve justice for all.
In line with Jackson’s text, (p.105), the main cause of despair involve pretending activists, for instance the religious groups who made up in support of the non-violent free actions but end up supporting the unjust form of governances or awkward forms of worldly practices. They pretend in support of religious rules but end up supporting secular or government policies.
Jackson, Jesse. “Why We Can’t Wait: By Martin Luther King (Jr.)”. New York, NY: New American Library-Penguin Group. 2000. Print.