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About World House

The World House

Perhaps the best summation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s teachings is "The World House" chapter of his book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, published in 1967. This chapter is based on King’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture, delivered at the University of Oslo on December 11, 1964. King worked nearly a month on the lecture and later gave it prominence as the concluding chapter of a book describing the enormous challenges facing humanity. He may well have regarded "The World House" as his most important single speech/essay. Unlike King's "I Have a Dream" speech or "Letter from Birmingham Jail," this work is virtually unknown.

In "The World House," Dr. King calls us to: 1) transcend tribe, race, class, nation, and religion to embrace the vision of a World House; 2) eradicate at home and globally the Triple Evils of racism, poverty, and militarism; 3) curb excessive materialism and shift from a "thing"-oriented society to a "people"-oriented society; and 4) resist social injustice and resolve conflicts in the spirit of love embodied in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. He advocates a Marshall Plan to eradicate global poverty, a living wage, and a guaranteed minimum annual income for every American family. He urges the United Nations to experiment with the use of nonviolent direct action in international conflicts. The final paragraph warns of the "fierce urgency of now" and cautions that this may be the last chance to choose between chaos and community.

Martin Luther King
The Nobel Peace Prize 1964
Nobel Lecture

The Quest for Peace and Justice

Every man lives in two realms, the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live. Our problem today is that we have allowed the internal to become lost in the external. We have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live. So much of modern life can be summarized in that arresting dictum of the poet Thoreau1: "Improved means to an unimproved end". This is the serious predicament, the deep and haunting problem confronting modern man. If we are to survive today, our moral and spiritual "lag" must be eliminated. Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul. When the "without" of man's nature subjugates the "within", dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.

Martin Luther King Jr. CollectionWoodruff LibraryThe Leadership CenterMorehouse College



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