Lessons Of The Dream

“I have a dream that my four little 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. I have a dream today.”

Fifty years later Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words still inspire.  They still call us to our better selves, rallying us in his cry for a moral and just society.

What is in the power of these words that still resonate today- even amongst those who have never felt the stinging bigotry of segregation, the brutal violence of racism? Dr. King’s voice is haunting as it demands we honor his dream of justice.  We cannot help but be by moved by his idealism and moral courage.

On another level, we can all relate on some level because we all have dreams.  Some are narrower in focus- for ourselves and for our children.  Some are broader- imagining a world of economic justice or an end to war (things of which Dr. King also dreamed.) But we are all united in having dreams. But sometimes are dreams seem too far and unattainable.

It is perhaps easy in today’s fast moving, global society to believe that our problems are insurmountable- that idealism is synonymous with naiveté.  Too many of us romanticize the past- believing that in the 1960’s once could change the world and that now it is no longer possible.

The truth is, of course, much scarier.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s the problems of segregation and racism also seemed insurmountable.  Change seemed unattainable.  What makes Dr. King’s message so powerful and scary is that it was more than his dream.  It was his life’s mission that he worked tirelessly to achieve. What is scary is not that things cannot change now.  What is scary is that they could if we backed up our dreams with action.

We cannot and should not dismiss idealism as merely dreams.  We cannot give up on making our lives and indeed, everyone’s lives, better simply because it is difficult.  Dr. King’s dream involved sacrifice and perseverance.  It involved action and commitment.  It was a bold dream fueled by moral conviction and fierce courage.

It is tempting to walk away from Martin Luther King Day congratulating ourselves as a nation for how far we have come (though it is clear that on many levels Dr. King’s dreams are not fully realized).  It is tempting to long for a past when such change was possible and cite the reasons it no longer is.  But we should hear Dr. King’s message as a rallying call to our dreams, a shining example of what is possible when dreams are backed up with actions.

What can you do today to make your dreams come true?

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