A call to unity and collective action

Across the United States today, banks are closed and businesses idled as Americans observe the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., who 50 years ago shared his dream — and hope — for a nation divided by inequality.

MLK speech illo3

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.  …  I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

And this morning, not far from where the Reverend King stood half a century ago, a crowd gathered once again — this time, to watch President Barack Obama be sworn in for a second term.

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  …  For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. … We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

I found it wonderful that President Obama so skillfully wove into his dreams those of the man who paved his way. But I also found it profoundly sad that, 50 years later, we’re still striving for true equality, opportunity, and hope.

So, why are we still striving, when segregation and ignorance are no longer to blame? I think it’s because now we’re struggling against our very nature, against the shadow side of our humanity. We’re fighting against greed and competition, against the belief that others are somehow different — and thus, inferior.

Like President Obama and the Reverend King before him, I too have a dream. I dream that we will become a wiser nation. A nation built on compassion, on the realization that we all grow stronger when we help the weakest among us. A nation built on mutually beneficial cooperation, not ruthless competition. A nation that values individual rights — but also responsibility. A nation that responds with aggression only as a last resort. And a nation that is united in a call to collective action.

That all men truly are equal. That is my dream.


    • As another great thinker and wise leader once said, we must seek to be the change we wish to see in the world. Peace to you, Patti.

  1. I dream that we will become a wiser species, that our universities will teach wisdom, instead of knowledge that seeks to exploit and compete, that we will understand ourselves as a small part of a universal whole, a universal whole upon which we are dependent and reliant, that we will learn to respect one another, ourselves, and all the world around us, material and living. I dream that we will honour ourselves through acting according the needs of each moment and not because some creed or ideology dictates that a particular reaction is the right one. I dream of the development of sensitivity and self-responsibility, of freedom through independent thinking, of being a proud member of a species that questions, but that has great humility, that listens, that appreciates, that practices restraint, that is extravagant in consideration and creativity, that manages its fears and aggressions through humour, games, exploration and investigation, and no longer through positing some artifice that we desensitise ourselves to by calling it, ‘other’. i wish you very well for Martin Luther King day. I wish I was a better person but I accept that I am in the mire, along with all else, and I forgive myself for this because I know that it hurts to hurt another. Whatever I do to them, I do to myself and this is the hardest lesson, but I’ll learn how to avoid this pain one day, for myself, and for others, and until then, I’ll make all efforts to practice kindness, to practice enlightenment. So peace to you and yours, and may you see the big in the small, each action as an enaction of your vision, and of MLK’s.

    • Given the sharply divided state of public opinion in the U.S. right now, I think it’s pretty much inevitable that the political pendulum continue to swing between the so-called liberal candidates and the conservatives, Ian. I just hope don’t forget to respect the most basic human rights along the way.

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