Did He Really Say That?

Just read this on a Facebook friend’s wall today:

“All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.“Christmas Sermon for Peace, December 24, 1967


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our interrelatedness so I was drawn to this quote and thought about sharing it on my own wall. But, some little voice inside me said, “Go read this quote in the primary source.” So, off I went to the internet and read the original sermon by Dr. King. Here is the actual quote from this site:

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.

Similar, yes. But the first item is represented as a quote, which means it is what he said, yes?

The quote as posted is given credibility as written because Dr. Martin Luther King supposedly said it! In 1967! Amazing that he said it so similarly to what we might say today! However, the rest of the original paragraph talks about how we are connected because of using things from all parts of the world, which is a rather different meaning, indeed.

The part that was added in,”For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be,” just doesn’t seem true to me. Ought is another word for should, and I don’t think there is anything I SHOULD be. “I yam what I yam.” (Popeye, circa 1970). Do you think who you are is limited by who other people are?

I’m troubled by this because I believe the original poster to be someone who cares about people and who wants to be part of the solution to the disconnectedness we experience as humans. But saying something with shining eyes and a big smile doesn’t make it true, and I submit that while we have the right to post anything we want, and call it a quote if we want to, I want to make sure that anything I share is actually accurate. What would happen to the internet if we all did that!

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