Though known for his work as a civil rights leader, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message resonates with anyone trying to live a more compassionate, grounded life. Here are quotes you might not have heard. Read them with your family.

Though best known as a civil rights leader and the father of American nonviolent protest and civil disobedience, Martin Luther King, Jr. offered profound insight into many areas of society, culture and the human condition.

And we should all be listening.

Here's a collection of quotes from the pastor, humanitarian, civil rights leader, brilliant writer, rhetorician and hero.

I have decided to stick to love...
Hate is too great a burden to bear.

One of the amazing aspects of Mr. King's teachings was his determined love for his "enemies." He understood that hatred consumes the serenity, happiness and efficiency of the hater while usually having no effect on his or her target. Mr. King reminds us that even when we are wronged, harboring hatred only makes our own lives miserable, and action fueled by hate is ineffective at best. More likely, it increases the problem and results in more violence and negativity.

He elaborated on the "corrosive" nature of hatred when he said:

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

When consumed with hatred, a person can only see through the filter of their own rage. Everything is tainted by the hue of their anger. This creates a dark and negative life.

As a Christian pastor, Mr. King lived Jesus' famous words "Love your enemies." He often spoke of racism as also destructive to the white racists who were consumed with hatred and misunderstanding toward blacks. Mr. King did not hate "his enemies." Rather, he loved them as he knew they were also suffering.

Though he also made very clear that "evil" must be faced squarely, and protested courageously:

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'

Though a widely respected scholar, writer, pastor and human rights leader, Mr. King understood the importance of all forms of labor, those at the "bottom" and the "top." He taught that dignity does not come from the nature of the job, but rather the way the job is done. In this way, Mr. King reminds us that nobody is "above" anybody else, and all work is "noble" work if it is done with heart, attention and respect.

We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true humanitarian, Mr. King understood that "things" should never overshadow our focus on people. He also knew that there was great power in "the people," and that together we can conquer destructive societal forces that may seem insurmountable.

To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal and the facts from the fiction.

In a time when it seems like education is becoming more and more formulaic and one-dimensional, Mr. King's words resonate perhaps more strongly than ever. A real education empowers the student to think for herself, to think critically and analytically, to question everything, determine what's right and wrong, and act accordingly.

We are faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words 'Too Late.'

Mr. King was a man of action. He knew he must move his feet and not just his mouth if he was going to accomplish anything. King was an example of brave, timely action taken in the name of what's right and necessary.

There are not many true heroes for our kids. I believe Mr. King is one of them.

This month, as we celebrate the birth of Mr. King, read his story to your kids, share with them his thoughts, let them know what he accomplished through nonviolent, compassionate means.

Because, as King said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

More on human rights

What's wrong with being a girl?
How white people will ignore Obama's speech on Zimmerman
Hey Paula Deen, slaves were not your "family"

Photo credit: Dick DeMarsico via Library of Congress/New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection

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