Stop Rationalizing and Make Hard Decisions: Learning from Dr. King


Greetings from London.

I thought I’d share the below quote, which was sent to me (Thanks, Thao!) when I was considering whether or not to put up the controversial FISA post. I knew beforehand that it would lose me some readers.

The few words below cut through hours of meaningless deliberation and made the decision simple…

There are a lot of hard choices and big decisions in life. Dealing with most of them requires facing daunting — but transient — discomfort.

I encourage you to read the following, which helped me to eliminate the rationalization we so often use to avoid doing what is important.

“I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the sermon “But, If Not” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on November 5, 1967.

Posted on: September 4, 2008.

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155 comments on “Stop Rationalizing and Make Hard Decisions: Learning from Dr. King

  1. Tim,

    I know this is a pretty late response to this post, but I wanted to thank you so much for sharing this quote. I read it this morning & carry it in my pocket as I head out to campaign at the polls against California’s Proposition 8 to protect civil rights for same sex couples. I beleive in this cause deeply, but MLKs words are what gave me the guts to go do something about it.



  2. Love this truth. I work with people who are terminally ill and dying every day. They’ve taught me more than any textbooks ever could about abundant life and facing fear aka False Evidence Appearing Real. Not one of them ever said, “gee, I wish I had spent more time at the office.”..or… (the rest to be shared when the book comes out) I am often asked, “how can you do such a job?” as if it requires some special skill. To me it takes more effort to walk around as the living dead in apathy. When I see that I want to say, “how can you do such a thing?” What an amazing life and testimony he was!!! Jeanie


  3. How can you not like this? What a great post! Thanks for doing this. Great quote! Really inspiring during this rough economy as well!

    Happy Business all!