Peace prize

As school children know, Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. At the 10 December 1964 award ceremony in the auditorium of the University of Oslo, Gunnar Jahn, Chair of the Nobel Committee, delivered a speech recognizing Rev. King. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Jahn’s thoughtful account of Rev. King’s achievements:

Martin Luther King’s belief is rooted first and foremost in the teaching of Christ, but no one can really understand him unless [they are] aware that he has been influenced also by the great thinkers of the past and the present. He has been inspired above all by Mahatma Gandhi, whose example convinced him that it is possible to achieve victory in an unarmed struggle. Before he had read about Gandhi, he had almost concluded that the teaching of Jesus could only be put into practice as between individuals; but after making a study of Gandhi he realized that he had been mistaken.

“Gandhi” he says, “was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force…”

In Gandhi’s teaching he found the answer to a question that had long troubled him: How does one set about carrying out a social reform?

“I found ” he tells us, “in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi… the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”

Because I am not a religious person, some may wonder why I can celebrate this observation, starting as it does with reference to a religious figure. I do not have to agree with 100% of what a person says to acknowledge a debt to her or him. And there is plenty to agree with in Rev. King’s example. For me, Mr. Jahn’s observations here represent one of the foremost aspects of Rev. King’s example.



Filed under Civil rights, News, Notes and comments, Peace

2 responses to “Peace prize

  1. mydigest

    The peaceful resistance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) known as Mahatma for his wisdom, worked because the colonisers against whom he worked were the English (assisted by the Scots, Welsh and Irish). Much as there were individuals in the governing power who were vicious racists and class snobs, the general approach was humane.

    It would not have worked against the Aryans who invaded the sub-continent and who still oppress the original darker skinned people in the Hindu caste system. It would not have worked against those European colonisers who were from non-Protestant countries; the Church of Rome would have had Gandhi swiftly dealt with, I suspect.

    What a pity the apparent philosophy of Yehoshua, the peaceful guru of the tribe of Yehuda, did not win over the zealots who finally prodded Rome into razing their Temple and shipping most of the people to slave markets in Rome.

    I have always wished that I could have had the talent of Elvis Presley but the heroism of ‘Doctor’ Martin Luther King junior is something I admire without the slightest desire to put myself into his position. For all his naughty little human weaknesses, what a man, what a hero, what a giant and what an awesome (I hope I use the word suitably for once) speaker!

    Cy Quick at

  2. mydigest

    By the way (you can delete either or both of my comments but especially this one) I saw the Mopvietone News of Gandhi’s assassination. The commentary began something like “…The Father of the People of India, the beloved Mahatma Gandhi, walks through the throng of joyful supporters. He is to be shot before he reaches…”

    My 8-year-old mind was shocked to the core! What was happening here?! How could they set up this little guy in the white nightie to be killed like this?! I never asked my mother what it was all about. I felt sickened. It was some years before all became clear.

    The style of narrating the story in those newsreels left plenty to be desired, I feel. Or am I mildly dyslexic or autistic in my translating what is said? It still takes me ages to work out a joke. I still fail to ‘make connections’. Cy

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