A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart



An early foreshadowing of his nonviolent philosophy, Dr. King advises Negroes of a particular course of action they should adhere to in order to properly equip themselves to combat racial injustice. Seeking to avoid both complacency and hostility, he challenges those who desire self-satisfaction, as well as those who seek to pacify their oppressors, by proposing the idea of one having both a tough mind and a tender heart.

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A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart
Sunday, August 30, 1959
Transcripts & Translations


[Page 1] A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart Text MT[10:16] A French philosopher once said that "no man is strong unless he bears within his character antitheses strongly marked ." The strong man is the man who can hold in a living [Illegible] strongly [mankind?] opposites. Very seldom do men achieve this balance of opposites. This idealists are not usually realistic, and the realists and not usually idealistic. The militant are not usually passive, and the passive are not usually militant. The humble are very seldom self-assertive and the self assertive are rarely humble. But [life?] at its best is a creative synthesis. It is the bringing together of opposites into fruitful harmony. As the philosophy Hegel said truth is found neither the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two. Jesus recognized the meek for the [illegible] [Page 2] of opposites. He knew that his disciples were going out to take his message into a difficult and hostile world. He realized that they would comfort the recalcitrance of political officials, and the intransigence of the [illegible] of the old order. He knew that they would comfort cold and arrogant men whose hearts had been hardened by the long [illegible] of traditionalism. So he said to to them: "Behold, I send you [forth] as [illegible] in the midst of wolves." Then he goes on to give them a formula for action:"be ye therefore rise as serpents, and homeless. as does." It is pretty difficult to imagine a single person having the characteristic of [Crossed out:of] the serpent and the dove simultaneously; but this is what Jesus expects. We must combined the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove. In other words Jesus is saying [Page 3] that [Inserted Text:individual] life at its best requires the possession of a tough mind and a tender heart. Let us consider first the need for a tough mind. This in that quality of life characterized by incisive thinking, realistic [apprasal?] and decisive judgement. The tough mind is sharp and [illegible]. It breaks through the crust of legends and myths, and exits the true from the false. The tough minded individual is astute and discerning. He has about him a strong austere [quality?] that makes firmness of purpose and solidness of commitment. No one can doubt that this toughness of mind is one of man's greatest needs. So few people ever achieve it. All to many are content with the soft mind. It is a [rarely?] [individ[ual?] to find men willing to engage in hand, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy [illegible], and [Page 4] half-baked solutions. Nothing [painsome?] [illegible] more than the idea of having to think. This prevalent tendency to lean toward self mindedness is found in man's unbelievable gullibility. Take our attitude toward advertisements. We can be so easily lead to purchase a product because a television or radio advertisement promises?] it better than any other. [Illegible] have long since learned that most people are soft minded, and they capitalize on this susceptibility with [Crossed out:Illegible] skillful and effective slogans. This undue gullibility is also seen in the tendency of all to many readers to accept the printed word of the press as final truth. Very few people realize that even our authentic channels of information, the press, the platform and the pulpit, in many instances, do not give [us?] objective and unbiased truth. So President Nkrumah of Ghana is is considered a ruthless dictator became the America press has [Crossed Out:Illegible] carefully [discriminated?] this [Page 5] idea. The great statesman and scholar,Prime Minister Nehru of India, is often considered a non committed ingrate became [Crossed Out:his policy of non alignment with] some segments of the American Press have given the impression that his policy of non-alignment is at bottom a [Illegible] commitment to nothing. Many social revelations in the world growing out of the legitimate aspirations of oppressed people for political independence, economic security and human dignity are considered Communist inspired because conservative element of the American press report them as such. Very few people have the toughness of mind to judge critically, to deceive the [Crossed out:th] from the false, the fact from the fiction. Our minds are constantly being invaded by legions of holy-truths, prejudices and false [Crossed Out:Illegible] facts. One of the great needs of mankind is to be lifted above the [morass?] of false propaganda. The soft minded individuals are prone to be susceptible to all kinds of [Illegible]. [Crossed out: They are constantly?] Their [Page 6] minds are constantly invaded by [irrational?] fears. [These?] [Crossed Out:Illegible] phobias range from fear of Friday the Thirteenth to fear of a black out crossing ones path. A few months ago I was stopping in one of the huge hotels of New York City. As the [Crossed Out:Illegible] elevator makes its upward climb the lighted sign within designated the number of each floor. I noticed for the first time that there was one thirteenth floor; the sign revealed that floor fourteen followed floor twelve. On inquiring from the elevator driver the reason for this omission he said: 'this practice is followed by most day hotels because of the fear of numerous people to stay on a thirteenth floor." And then he went on to say, "the foolishness of the fear is the fact that the fourteenth floor is actually the thirteenth, and yet we could never designate it so, because no one would stay there." These are just some of the fears that leave the soft minded haggard by day and haunted by night. The soft minded always fears change. They get a [serenity?] in the status quo. [[Page 7] They have an almost morbid fear of the new. For them, the most pain of all pain is the pain of a new idea. An elderly segregationist in the south was reported to have said a few days ago: "I have come to see now that desegregation is inevitable. But I pray God that it will not take place until I die." He feared living with the change. The soft minded person always wants to free the moment, and held life in the gripping yoke of [Illegible]. Soft mindedness has often invaded the ranks of religion. This is why religion has all to often closed its eyes to new discoveries of truth. Through edicts and [illegible], inquisitions and excommunications, the Church has attempted to [Illegible] truth and place an impenetrable stonewall in the path of the truth-seeker. So, many new truths, from the findings of [Copernicus?] and Galileo to the [Illegible] theory of evolution, have been rejected [Page 8] by the Church with dogmatic passion. The [Illegible]-philological criticism of the Bible is looked [Crossed out:Illegible] upon by the soft minded as a blasphemous act, and [Illegible] is often looked upon as the exercise of a corrupt faculty which has no place in religion. The soft [Crossed Out:Illegible] minds have rewritten the [Illegible] to read: "Blessed are the pure in ignorance for they shall see [Crossed Out:Illegible] God." All of this has lead to the [Illegible] belief that there is a conflict between science and religion. But this isn't true. There may be a conflict between soft minded [religionionsts?] and tough minded scientist, but not between science and religion. This respective worlds are different and their method are dissimilar. Science investigates. Religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power. Religion gives more wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts. Religion [Page 9] deals mainly with [Illegible]. The two are not rivals. They are each other's compliment. Science keeps religion from sinking into the morass of crippling [Illegible] and paralyzing [obscurantism?]. Religion prevent science from falling into the marsh of absolute materialism and moral [nihilism?] We do not have to look very far to see the dangers of self mindedness. We have seen its ominous consequence in the modern world. Dictator after dictator has capitalized on self [Illegible], and lead men to acts of barbarity and terror that are unthinkable as existing realities in civilized society.It came to its most [Illegible] expression in Adolf Hitler. He realized that soft mindedness was so prevalent that he said [Crossed Out:on] one occasion: " I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few." In Mein Kamph he asserted: [Page 10] Soft mindedness is also one of the basic causes of race prejudice. The tough minded will reach a conclusion before they have explained the first fact; in short they pre-judge, hence they are prejudice. All race prejudice is based on fears, suspicions, and misunderstandings that are usually groundless. So there are these who are soft minded enough to believe that the Negro is inferior by nature because of Noah's curse upon the children of Ham. There are those who are soft minded enough to believe in the [Page 11] superiority of the white race and the inferiority of the Negro race in spite of the tough minded research of anthropologist like Margret Mead and Ruth Benedict revealing the falsity of such a nation. There are those who are soft minded enough to argue that racial segregation should be maintained because Negroes lag behind in academics, health and moral standards. They are not tough minded enough to see that if there are lagging standards in the Negro community they are themselves the result of segregation and discrimination. The are not deceiving enough to see that it is both rationally unsound and sociologically [Illegible] to use the tragic efforts of segregation as a argument for its continuation. All too many politicians in the south recognize this [Illegible] of self mindedness which engulfs their [Illegible], and with [Illegible] zeal they make inflammatory statement and [Page 12] [Crossed Out:and] [Illegible] distortions and half-truths which result in arousing [Illegible] fears and morbid [antipathies?] within the minds of uneducated and underprivileged whites, leaving them in such a state of confusion that they are led to acts of meanness and violence that no moral person would commit. Little Rock Arkansas [will?] Albany remain as a shameful reminder to the American people that this nation can sink to deep dungeons of moral degeneracy when an [Illegible], power thirsty head of state appeals to a constituency, that is not tough minded enough to see through his [malevolent?] designs. There is little hope for us in our personal and collective lives until we became tough minded enough to break loose from [Page 13] the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance. The hope of the world today does not permit us the luxury of soft mindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce [Crossed Out:Illegible] using an installment plan to purchase its own spiritual death. But we must not stop with the cultivation of a tough mind. The gospel also demands a tender heart. Tough mindedness without tender heartedness is cold and detached. It leaves one's life like a perpetual winter [Illegible] of the worth of spring and the gentle heat of summer. This is nothing more tragic than to [use?] a person who has risen to the disciplined lights of of[sic] [Crossed out:Illegible] tough mindedness an has to the same time such to the [passionless?] depths of hard [Part 14] heartedness. The hard hearted person never truly loves. He only engages in a cross [Illegible] utilitarianism love which sues other people [Crossed Out:only] [Inserted over crossed out text:mainly] in [Crossed out text:their] relationships to their usefulness to him. He never [Crossed out text:enjoys the [Illegible] experiences the [Illegible] of friendships because he is to[o] cold to have affection for another and too self centered to have joy in another's joy and sorrow in another's sorrow. So he ends up as an isolated island with no outpouring of love to find him with the mankind of humanity The hard hearted person has not the capacity for genuine compassion. He is unconcerned about the pains and sufferings of his brothers. He passes by unfortunate men everyday, but he never [Page 15] really sees them. [Crossed out:He] comfort men hungry and feeds them not; he passes men needed and clothes them not; he finds men sick and visits them not. [Crossed out:illegible] If he decides to give to a worth while charity, he gives his dollars and not his spirit. He becomes cold, self-centered and heartless. The hard hearted individual never sees people as people. He sees the only as object and impersonal [Illegible] is some ever turning which. If it is the [most?] wheel of industry, he sees men as hands rather person. If it is the massive [wall?] of big city life, he sees men as digits in a multitude. If it is the deadly turning wheel of army life, he sees men as number[s] in a regiment. He ends up [depersonalifying?] [Page 16] [Crossed out:the] individual life, and seeing men as little more than useful things. Jesus told many parables to illustrate the characteristics of the hard hearted. The rich fool was condemned not because he wasn't tough minded, but because he wasn't tender hearted. For him, life became an eternal mirror in which he sees only himself, and not a window though which he saw other [Illegible]. Dives went to hell not because he was wealthy, but because he was not tender hearted enough to see Lazarus. He went to hell because he [Illegible] compassion and made no more to bridge the gulf between himself and his brother. So Jesus reminds us in a striking was that the God of life demands [Crossed Out:Illegible] combining the toughness of the serpent with the tenderness [Page 17] of the dove. To have serpent-like qualities [Illegible] of dove-like qualities is to be passionless, mean and selfish.[To?] have done like qualities without serpent-like qualities is to be sentimental, anemic and aimless. We must combind[combine] in our characters antithesis story by mankind. This [text?] has a great deal of bearing on our struggle for racial justice. We as Negroes must combind[combine] tough mindedness and tender heartedness if we are to move creativity toward the goal of of[sic] freedom and justice. There are those soft minded individuals among us who feel that the only way to [Crossed out:not] deal with oppression is to adjust to it. They follow the way of [Illegible] [Page 18] and resign themselves to the fate of [Crossed out text:oppression] [Inserted over text:segregation]. In almost every pilgrimage up freedom's road some of the oppressed peoples [tend?] to remain oppressed. Almost 2800 years ago Moses set out to lead the children of Israel from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. He soon discovered that slaves do not always welcome their deliverers. They would rather [have] been those ill's they have, as Shakespeare painted out,then flee to other that they know not of. They prefer the "fleshpato of Egypt" to the ordeals of emancipation. But this is not the way out. This soft minded acquires is the way of the coward. My friends, we cannot in the repeat of the white people of the South or the peoples of the world if we are willing to sell the future [Page 19] of our children for our preserved and immediate safety and comfort. [Illegible], we must learn that the passive acceptance of an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and [thereby?] became a participant in its evil. Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperative with good. There are those hard hearted individuals among us who feel that our only way out is to rise up against the opponent with physical violence and corroding hatred. But this also is not the way out. Violence often brings about [Illegible] results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But as I have said to you so many times before, in spite of temporary victories violence surrounding permanent peace. It creates many more social problems than it solves. So I am [convinced?] that if we [Page 20] succomb to the temptation of using violence in our struggle for freedom, [Illegible] generation will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to them will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. There is still a voice echoing though the [Illegible] of time saying to every potential Peter, "Put up your sword." History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that failed to follow the command. There is a third way open to us in our quest for freedom,namely, non-violent resistance. It is a way that combinds[combines] tough mindedness and tender heartedness. It avoids the complacency and [Crossed out Text:donothingism] donothingism of the soft minded and the violence and bitterness of the hard hearted. It is toughminded enough to resist evil. It is tender hearted enough [Part 21] to resist it with love an nonviolence. It seems to me that this is the [Crossed Out Text:most potent] method that must guide our actions in the present crisis in race relations. Through non violent resistance we will be able to rise to the noble highs of opposing the unjust system while loving the perpetrators of the system. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for full stature as citizens, but may it never be said my friends that we used inferior methods to gain it. We must never come to terms with falsehood,malice, hate or violence. I cannot close this [morning?] without applying the meaning of out text without to the nature of God. The greatness of our God [Page 22] his in the first that he is both toughminded and tender hearted. He has qualities of austerity and qualities of gentleness. The Bible is always clear in stress both attributes of God. It expresses his tough mindedness in his justice and worth. It expresses his tenderheartedness in his love and grace. So God has two outstretched arms-one that is strong enough to surround us with justice and one that is gentle enough to surround us with grace. On the one hand God is a God of justice who punishes Israel for his wayward deeds. On the other hand he is a forging father [who?] [Crossed Out Text:Illegible] heart is filled with unutterable joy when a prodigal son returns home. I am thankful this morning that [Page 23] we worship a God who is both tough minded and tender hearted. If God were only tough minded he would be a cold passionless despot who sits in some far off Heaven-"Contemplating all"- as Tennyson put it in [Underlined:Palace of Art. He would be [Crossed Out Text:an [Arrst?] like Aristotle's "unmoved mover" who was merely self knowing, but not other [loving?]. If God were only tender hearted he would be so soft and sentimental that he would be unable to function when things go wrong and inescapable of controlling what he has made. He would be like H.G. Well's God in [underlined:God the Invisible King] who is a lovable being strongly desirious of making a good world, but finds himself helpless before the surging powers [Page 24] of evil. No, God is neither hard hearted [or?] soft minded. He is tough minded enough to transcend the world. He is tender hearted enough to be [Underlined:Illegible] in it. He leaves us not alone in our agonies and struggles. He seeks us in dark places and suffers with us and for us in our tragic [prodigality?]. There are times when we need to know that God is a God of justice. When evil faces rise to the throne and [stuumbling?] giants of injustice emerge in the earth, we need to know that there is a God of power who can cut them down like the grass, and [Page 25] leave them withering like the green herb. When our most tireless efforts fail to stop the surging sweep of some months of [Crossed out Text:injustice] oppression, we need to know that then is a God in this universe whose matchless strength is a [fit?] contrast to the sordid weakness of man. But there are times when we need to know that God is a God of love and mercy. When we are staggered by the chilly winds of adversity and battered by the raging storms of disappointment; when though our folly and sin we stray into some [Crossed out Text:Illegible] [destructive?] far country and are frustrated because of a strange feeling of homesickness, we need to know that there is someone who love us, who really cares, who understands, and who will give us another chance. When day grow[s] [Crossed out Text:Illegible] [Inserted over Croissed out Text:dark] and [Page 26] and nights grow dreary [we?] can be thankful that our God is not a one-sided incomplete God, but he combinds[combines] in his nature a creative [systhesis?] of love and justice which can lead our [through?] life's dark valley's into sun but pathways of hope and fulfillment. [Page 27] [Text Inserted below 'TO BE ANSWERED AUGUST 17TH':Sin] [Inserted Text in bottom: right margin: A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart] [Inserted Text under Tender Heart:29 pcs] [Page 28] Preached at Dexter August 30, 1959 [Page 29] [Inserted Text in bottom: right margin: A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart]
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