I have a dream

mlk memorialToday is the day my country celebrates the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many people don’t agree with the public holiday. They say others have done work just as important. They cite shortcomings in his personal life. They say the government just wants to take another day off. Pick an argument; someone has made it.

Forget all that. Please.

I challenge you to look past the man and look at the work he did. Consider what he stood for, and that he wasn’t afraid to stand up for it. No one–NO ONE–should be judged by superficial attributes. We have to look at the things that really matter:

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.–MLK, 28 Aug 1963 (emphasis added)

I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want for my kids. I’d kind of like it for myself, too.

In my high school history classes, the school year was almost over by the time we got to the 1960s. Anything after WWII got crammed into the few remaining weeks when no one could see anything but summer vacation anyway. It wasn’t until later in my life that I even read much about the Civil Rights Movement (sad that we had to have a movement to promote equal treatment), let alone the text of Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech.

It is truly profound.

Many people know the most famous bits, the parts that start with “I have a dream that…” Equally as impactful are sentiments like these:

–When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

–This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

–In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

–We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

–We cannot walk alone.

If you’ve never read the entire text, today is the perfect day to do it. Even if you know it by heart, today is a great day to revisit it. And then live it.

We’re all in this together.

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4 thoughts on “I have a dream

  1. and in some ways, we’re deeper into divides of class, more so than race, that have split this country…but we have the means to change if we FEEL THE NEED to change.
    I have a dream too. It’s a big one.

  2. A fitting tribute to a very inspiring man on this special day.

    I chose to write today on the racism that was and still is prevalent among some white Midwesterners. It’s called “Was He Only Dreaming?: Hoosier Perspectives on Martin Luther King”. I’d love for you to check it out and tell me what you think.

    • Thanks for the reply, indytony. I read your post and agree that we have a long way to go to achieve color-blindness in the minds of many people. I’ve experienced some of those same comments, and while I think our homogenity in the Midwest certainly sets the stage for this kind of thinking, I’ve experienced it everywhere. We have to do what we can, when we can, where we can, acting as living examples at all times. I cling to the belief that eventually, content will follow form for the people who haven’t gotten there yet. It’s all I’ve got.

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