Philosophy Paper on Søren Kierkegaard and Martin Luther King Jr.
Based on the characteristics stipulated by Kierkegaard, this paper demonstrates why Abraham is rightly known as a ‘Knight of Faith’. Owing to the characteristics he shares with Martin Luther King Jr., King is also considered a Knight of Faith, based on the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. Both the intelligentsias have made sacrifices for serving the pure purpose of philanthropy, the well-being of others.
Kierkegaard justifies that Abraham qualifies to be deemed a Knight of Faith because of the absolute trust he had in God. The absolute trust Abraham had in God is reflected in his actions. Obliging to Jesus’ command, Abraham left his homeland for a foreign land he knew nothing about. When he decided to agree to sacrifice his only son Isaac, we get a glimpse of Abraham’s utter faith in God. It was not easy for Abraham to embark upon a decision this demanding, given the fact that Isaac was his only beloved son. This was a very difficult decision for Abraham considering the fact that Isaac was his only son who he had begotten at an old and fragile age. Having lived without a child for so long, both Abraham and his wife Sarah had Isaac as their only hope (Kierkegaard, p.4-6).
When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, it was a difficult thing to do, but because of his absolute faith in God, he agreed upon God’s wish. This incident has a substantial role to play in Abraham’s christening as the Knight of Faith. Kierkegaard claims that Abraham’s faith was remarkable. Not many would have been willing to expense their own sons. They would rather have themselves killed. A few of the characteristics exhibited by the Knight of Faith as implied by Abraham’s story include having absolute faith in God, striving to please God and not men, being peace-loving and philanthropic (Kierkegaard, p.4-6).
Having mastered all the qualities mentioned, Abraham aptly is a Knight of Faith. His absolute faith was evident in his passing the trial which God had bestowed upon him (Kierkegaard, p.6-8). Based on the set of abilities reserved for the Knight of Faith, Martin Luther King Jr. also qualifies to be called a Knight of Faith. In the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, King has explained his actions to fellow clergymen and followers who had hitherto criticized his decision to hold peaceful protests in Birmingham. The critics termed his decision ‘unwise and untimely’ owing to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, headed by King. Critics felt that it was too early to hold peaceful demonstrations outside Georgia (MLK).
King, just like Abraham, left his hometown behind to go and propagate his message in another town. Stating that black people were facing injustices in all the states in the U.S, he got his decision justified. Concentrating his liberation efforts solely to his hometown would have amounted to ignorance of the plight of other African-Americans. King further gave an example of apostles such as Peter who left their hometown behind to go and spread the gospel to the gentiles. Like Abraham, King was also a man who harbored unconditional faith in God. He was a Christian minister who invoked God in all his efforts including his civil right activism. In addition to it, King believed that God would make his actions fortuitous (MLK).
The yardstick he deployed to differentiate the right from the wrong and the justification he gave for his activism suggests that King strived to please God rather than men. King considered things that contradict the laws of God and nature to be wrong while those in harmony with the laws to be right. For instance, King availed the Christian faith and teaching to argue that the segregation laws in the South were morally wrong. He reiterated Christian teachings saying all men were created equal, hence, passing laws that discriminated against others based on the color of their skin was immoral (MLK).
Like Abraham, King, being peaceful and loving, advocated for nonviolent protests. He was strongly opposed to the use of violence and hate. For instance, he consistently referred to both the supporters and the opponents as his brothers in his letter. Firmly believing in the teachings of Christ that called up on believers to love and pray for their enemies, King also urged his supporters not to despise racist white people. On a similar note, King advised his followers not to subscribe to the teachings of the black nationalists, the ones belonging to the Islamic nation who called the white man ‘the devil’ (MLK).
Abraham is known to have faced testing moments while traversing his journey of faith. Having to move away from his homeland and the people he knew, he has lived for many years without a child. When he was finally blessed with a son, God asked him to sacrifice his son as an offering to Him. Parallelly, King has been through difficult times during his civil rights activism. He had to spend time in cold jails and face brutality from the police. At times, he faced stringent opposition from both his opponents and colleagues. Since the outcome of the journeys were uncertain, faith was all they relied upon. Abraham was dubious of what awaited him in the Promised Land, and King was skeptical of the efficaciousness of his efforts and tribulations. However, he strongly believed that with time, black people would practice full civil rights. After all, it is impossible to oppress a person forever (MLK).
The experiences of Abraham and King lay before us this vital lesson that at times, we have to rely on faith; we have to believe that our sincere efforts will succeed despite the facts predicting otherwise. Lastly, their experiences teach us how important collective goals are when compared to personal goals. Both the legends truly have made a mark in history sacrificing their personal interests for the wellbeing of the generations-to-come.
African Studies Center. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]”. University of Pennsylvania. http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html9