At midnight colours lose their distinctiveness and become a sullen shade of grey. Moral principles have lost their distinctiveness. For modern man, absolute right and absolute wrong are a matter of what the majority is doing. Right and wrong are relative to likes and dislikes and the customs of a particular community. We have unconsciously applied Einstein’s theory of relativity, which properly described the physical universe, to the moral and ethical realm.
Midnight is the hour in which men desperately seek to obey the eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not get caught.” According to the ethic of midnight, the cardinal sin is to be caught and the cardinal virtue is to get by. It is alright to lie, but one must lie with real finesse. It is alright to steal, if one is so dignified that, if caught, the charge becomes embezzlement, not robbery. It is permissible even to hate, if one so dresses his hating in the garments of love that hating appears to be loving. The Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest has been substituted by a philosophy of the survival of the slickest. This mentality has brought a tragic breakdown of moral standards, and the midnight of moral degeneration deepens.
- from Chapter 6, "A Knock at Midnight" in Dr. King's book, Strength to Love
Society teaches that we can hate our neighbor as long as we disguise our hatred in the garments of love. Society teaches that I can hate my neighbor as long as I can justify this hatred in my own mind. I can let my neighbor starve when they knock on my door in the midnight hour.
Society teaches that love is optional, neighbors are replaceable, and people are expendable. You don’t need to help your neighbor as long as you don’t hurt them. Society has defined hurt as; the causing of bodily injury, or pain.
Have you ever felt unloved? I certainly have. From my personal experience I can attest that bodily injury is less painful, and heals much quicker than a shattered spirit. To be turned away in your time of need, or one's most vulnerable moment feels far worse than any pain I’ve experienced. The realization that you don’t matter when you know you should, often leaves a life-long scar. One that will never heal as the wound does. One that will not stop bleeding as the busted lip will.
Society also teaches that we need government, colossal corporations and materials to fulfill our destiny. It teaches that no matter how you help your neighbors, your value is defined by the man-made resources we cherish -- resources such as money, nice clothing and expensive vehicles. Society places significance on people who live up to society's standards.
The youth who was lead astray by his environment's inactivity; with dreadlocks, baggy jeans and untied sneakers can expect to face a prison term of no less than 5 years for an unarmed burglary of materials valued at less than $5000.00. The stockbroker, on the other hand, with expensive suit, hand-woven necktie and fine Italian shoes, may receive a maximum 12 month probation for the embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars. An equally unethical crime.
Society teaches us to focus on the individuals actions, instead of the evil that guided them to theft. Surely the stockbroker understood his actions were illegal and unethical prior to carrying out his evil intentions.
Society teaches the “survival of the fittest” philosophy. God teaches the” significance of the fellow man” method. What will you do when you neighbor knocks at midnight for a loaf of bread? Will you answer? What about the homeless man eating from the trash? Will you feed him? What will you do for the drug addict, so lost in his society that he can’t even stand? Will you help him to his feet? How would you feel if society cared so little about you that you were forgotten, and reduced to ask for a loaf of bread, from someone that you wished actually loved you?
What will YOU do?
King Center Maintenance Staff