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Essay: Martin Luther Kings Quest for Spiritual and Material Balance in Life

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  • Published: 1 April 2019*
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  • Words: 1,157 (approx)
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  • Tags: Martin Luther King Essays

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This essay will examine the relationship between the spiritual and the material realm. In the “The Quest for Peace and Justice,”  Martin Luther King argues that “in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and material abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.” He claims that although there have some astonishing scientific discoveries, we are missing something very basic. The hunger for material wealth has grown so much that we have forgotten how to live morally and spiritually.

   Martin Luther King claims that we live in two realms, the internal and the external. The internal realm is the spiritual and the external is materialistic. He then emphasizes that the external have taken over the external, which has created a moral lag. In order to progress, we need to get rid of this lag. The material and the spiritual are essential for humans, but they are different realms. In a material world, materiality seeks to destroy spirituality.

   Materialism is “a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.” This means that materialism is not only the action of prioritizing material things over everything else, but is something that can be used in a positive way to achieve important life goals. “Research shows materialism is a part of every human, it is how humans cope with certain situations when they’re nervous and anxious like the fear of death. Materialism does not solely exist particularly in materialistic people, it can also be classified as a simple act of calling citizens as consumers. Research has analyzed how materialism is used in a good measure in Asian societies where gift giving traditions are used to bridge the relationships. Although materialism does have an ugly side to it, but not everyone who uses materialism as a tool of achieving certain goals has bad intentions.

   Whereas spirituality is “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” Spirituality and being religious are two different things. Spirituality includes the love for nature, art, music and poetry. Spirituality is also considered being morally right and seeing the better in the world. Spirituality relates to the spirit rather than the mind and body. It also means that we go back to a nature state, where there isn’t even a shade of artificiality. In a completely spiritual world, there will be no violence, everything will be truer and more noble. Spirituality leads us to see the truest form of reality, thereby taking us to the eternal state of mental wellbeing.

   Spirituality and materiality are although two completely different way of perceiving things and are two different ideas all together. But the truth is that to a certain extent, both spirituality and materiality exist in human beings. For a human to be fully spiritual, he will need to cut off all materialistic thoughts and material belongings. Similarly, a person who is completely spiritual will need to cut of all his spirituality. Spirituality and materialism are both ways of achieving happiness. The material aims to achieve external happiness while the spiritual aims to achieve internal happiness. Spirituality aims at being selfless, while materiality aims to be selfish.  Spirituality aims towards loving each other, while materiality aims towards loving material wealth. A spiritual person aims towards living each day as it goes, while a materialistic person aims towards the future. Yet, being so different from each other, both the spiritual and the material are present in all humans.

   “Material and spiritual life should go hand in hand, like the two wings of a bird, and that the normal life of a householder is the best environment in which to learn the twin virtues of love and sacrifice. Moment we try to segregate the two and give power to one over another, we go in circles.” It is important to balance the material and the spiritual.

   The world we live is a world that is gone more towards materiality, but this certainly does not mean that spirituality does not exist. Materiality and spirituality constantly clash with each other, on a personal level and also on a much larger scale. The main difference between a material and spiritual world is that in a material world wealth is always measured with monetary values, whereas in a spiritual world wealth is measured using the measure that how much knowledge someone has. A materiel world is a place which is based appearance and the external. It is a world of violence. It is world of greed. It is a world where there is no real sense of satisfaction. Whereas a spiritual world is a place on what cannot be seen and the internal. It is a world of nonviolence. A world in which satisfaction is based on peace of the mind. We want to be wealthy, successful and famous, and to enjoy the many pleasures that our materialistic culture glamorizes. When the struggle for fulfilling these material desires drains us, we may explore spiritual life as possible stress-reliever.

   Materiality is always finding ways to overpower spirituality. We are living in a material world, in such a world as Martin Luther King claims, we have let material things taken over spiritual. The good has taken over the bad. The material is has become such a powerful weapon that it tries to destroy all the potential threats that come from the spiritual. One such example is the killing of Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King was a leader who showed resistance against the materiality. He stated the potential threats that materiality posed to our world. He took a stand against materiality. He believed in a more spiritual world. He believed in a world that had more good than bad. Because he took this stand this against materiality, the material world thought of him as a potential threat. This was one of the main reasons that he was assassinated. He wanted spirituality in a materialistic world. Another similar example is the

assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, who led a fight against a material world while using spirituality as his main weapon.

   Materiality and spirituality are although two aspects that are present in almost everyone. Their beliefs are constantly on clash with each other. A spiritual world is noble, it is a world in which truth prevails. While a material world is a world is lies which is ignoble. Hence we can see that although the material and the spiritual are two completely different realms, which are complete opposites, almost everyone is spiritual and material at the same time.

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