Forty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrated his last birthday. When asked why he was so concerned about his campaign for civil rights as well as for ending poverty and an unpopular war, he often referred to the “fierce urgency of now.” In a speech at Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967 he said:
We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood-it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”
We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
The time for action to end homelessness in New Jersey is now. Today on King’s birthday may we feel the fierce urgency of now and commit ourselves to working together to end homelessness in New Jersey! If we fail to do so we may be condemned to the “long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”