Life is Interrelated (courtesy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr)

Posted by alison on January 20th, 2008

I came across this Martin Luther King, Jr. quote from a speech he gave in 1967.  More than 40 years later, I’m amazed by its relevance – probably even more so today than when he first delivered it.  On the occasion of his birthday, thought it would be worth sharing.

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. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

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11 Responses to “Life is Interrelated (courtesy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr)”

  1. I’ve read a similar quote by Einstein and this is also a big theme with Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn.

    All three men are in good company!

  2. Joe says:

    Thank you, Joan, for discovering this inspiring and appropriate quote from Dr. King. I am sharing it (giving you all due credit, of course) with my students by posting it on my blog.

  3. Matt says:

    Would anyone happen to know when, where, what speech this quote came from??

  4. Joan says:

    Hi Matt – thanks for reading our blog.

    This quote is from MLK’s “A Christmas Sermon for Peace,” delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church and aired on December 24, 1967 by the Canadian Broadcasting Company. You can read the full speech at

    Hope that helps. Thanks for your interest.

  5. Joan says:

    Sorry – the period at the end of the link is causing an error – try

  6. Matt says:

    Thank you Joan. Your help is much appreciated.

  7. Wp Trackback says:

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  8. This is my favorite MLK quote. Thanks for providing it! I’ve linked to here from my blog, Small & Big.

  9. […] Life is Interrelated (courtesy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr) […]

  10. GBS says:

    There is no MLK annual cartoon – like Charle Brown – Christmas / Holloween etc and the other holidays. I am trying to make one. FOX has a compitition to make the next Holiday Special. I made one for MLK, Out of 500 entries only 2 were for MLK. See if you son likes it. ( The other people on this blog can comment too )

  11. Art Sheppard says:

    Dr. King was such an inspiring speaker. I remember I heard him speak when I was young. I believe that Dr. King was a great man. He along with other brave men and women, transformed American society from a fake democracy into one in which all people can participate and achieve. The miraculous aspect of his great work is that he transformed an openly racist culture into one of tolerance almost overnight and led a spiritual transformation of our nation.
    I once met Dr. King when I was a teenager. He led a protest/picket campaign against a supermarket chain, in a community where I lived that refused to hire black teenagers as “Bag boys” in its stores. I was one of those teenagers. I met him after a speech he presented at a local movie theater prior to the protest campaign. I got to talk to him one on one. I relive and retell this meeting and conversation in my book, “Talking Penny.” I’ll never forget the words he said to me.