For many of us, the phrase “I Have A Dream” has become somewhat of cliché. We all have dreams. That fact alone is somewhat meaningless.
But some of us are more than dreamers. Sometimes we wake up, thinking that our dream is a message, an alarm that is telling us to take action. Most of the time we talk ourselves out if it. We go back to sleeping and dreaming.
And then there are dreamers that have wild and crazy illusions of living in a fantasy world. A land of make-believe. A place where we hold hands, get along and treat each other with respect.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of those wild and crazy people. You wouldn’t think it at first sight. A well-spoken, Baptist minister, Dr. King in many ways was far from a Nobel Peace Prize-winning figure. He was separated at the age of six from his white friend because they enrolled in segregated schools. As an adolescent, he resented white people because of the humiliation his family experienced living in the South.
He suffered from depression and attempted suicide at the age of 12. He was involved in extramarital affairs. Dr. King was just like you and me. During his more than a decade of activism, there were arrests, death threats, and secret activity by the FBI that would make most of us paranoid. You would never know it by listening to one of his speeches.
After becoming a pastor and committing to a life that was led by his belief in the Gospel, Dr. King was able to rise from his past experiences, to speak to people of all backgrounds and all faiths.
Today, when an injustice is committed, the act is often captured on a smartphone camera and shared on social media. Some respond with shared disgust. Some call for violence against the perpetrators, and often there are pages and pages of hatred rather than calls for peace.
This is not in the spirit of Dr. King. When they went low, he went high, and he did it at a time that was risky. A time when losing your life for merely existing as a colored person was a reality.
People don’t speak like Dr. King anymore. I don’t mean just ordinary people, but also people in power. The beauty of his language and his manner of communicating is lost with today’s leaders.
Maybe they don’t speak like him because they don’t think like him.
Where are the I Have A Dream speeches of today? Where are the people that are inspiring a new generation of citizens to go out and make a change? The tough kind of change that is meaningful and takes courage. The type of change that takes patience. Equality is not an overnight thing.
Dr. King was shot and killed at the age of 39. His autopsy documented that he had the heart of a 60-year-old. A life of living and dreaming for others had taken its toll.
But for King, it was well worth it. His dream is our dream. His actions should also be ours. It’s time we wake up and live a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. kind of life.