Remembering The Dream
I’ve recently reread Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, and I have to say, it is just fantastic. It is one of the all time greatest political speeches in history, and is generally remembered as such. However, for being such a well beloved and well remembered speech, many people still seem to have forgotten the very dream Dr. King was speaking about.
The dream seems to have been forgotten in two general ways. First, some have simply not gotten the message. And second, others have gotten the message, but only part of it.
Before addressing those issues however, it must be pointed out that much has improved. Case in point, people of African descent can vote and have all their constitutional rights, and it is illegal for the government to deny them that. Public segregation has been done away with. In the eyes of the law, Blacks have been made equals to everyone else. We really have come a long way since 1963.
That being said, there are still some remaining problems beyond just legal justice and liberty. And that first problem, as stated above is that some people still have yet to get Dr. King’s message. There are still racist individuals, and while the government cannot discriminate, individuals still can, and unfortunately discrimination and harassment based on race still does happen even today. And it is hard to combat. Seeing as we live in a free country where the government can’t make our personal choices for us, it can prove difficult to get rid of individual racism. A person’s individual choices are their choices, and depending on the nature of the choice, the government often does not have, nor should it, have the power to intervene. Ultimately, it is up to people to change. And they need to.
Now the second issue has gone a bit more unnoticed. And where the first one is generally accepted by most, this one might be some hard medicine, since it goes against many people’s mainstream political narratives. Many of the people who claim to believe in Dr. King’s dream, are missing a huge part of it. While condemning the injustice that Blacks had received, he also gave this warning: “ But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. 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.”
Dr. King’s dream wasn’t avenging the wrongs that racists had done to Blacks. His dream was “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.’” He goes on to talk about the people of this country joining together in brotherhood, that we “will one day live in a Nation where [people] will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the conduct of their character”, where “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls as brothers and sisters.”
Right now, that dream, in many cases, seems more distant than ever. For while many people say they believe in the dream, we are still a deeply divided nation, especially in these last few years. As stated before there are white racists around, and just in 2017, there seems to have been a bit of a surge in KKK, Neo-Nazi, and Neo-Confederate activity. And this a big problem. But so is the narrative adopted by many leftists and “social justice warriors”. So many people hate or condemn “white people” because white people are supposedly a problem according to their narrative. Some in recent months have even gone so far as to revile against the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, imperfect, but truly great men, and some of the greatest history as ever produced, and all because they supposedly represent the oppressive “white male patriarchy”. Now, much can be said about our founding fathers and other historical figures, but that is a topic for another time.
The point is that this division in our nation has more than one side to it. Instead of joining hands to make a better tomorrow, many people in the name of justice, the political left especially, have victimized minorities and plead their case, but have done little to actually help them overcome their social and economic disadvantages. If they were to actually make things better, there would be no victims to vote for them. Meanwhile, to emphasize their point that minorities are victims, they have have made white people into something of a scapegoat. They say, in essence, to blame everything wrong with society on white people. It’s a good unifying method, similar to, though admittedly not as extreme as, Hitler uniting Germany by blaming all their problems on the Jews. Much can also be said about this narrative, but that also ought to be saved for another time, and for this piece I will try to stay close to the topics directly addressed in Dr. King’s speech.
Continuing on, this isn’t to say that Blacks don’t have disadvantages or aren’t still treated unfairly by some, and perhaps many individuals. Many do experience this, and in many cases, it isn’t their fault. But hating people, as many subtly suggest doing, won’t make any problems go away. Dr. King warned against that. Said he “ The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people — for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is inextricably tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”
Dr. King seems to believe that all our freedoms and fates are tied together. If Blacks want freedom and equality, then Whites need it too. If Whites want freedom, Black people need it to. Essentially, if we want to “win”, we all need to win together. To echo a common inspirational statement: “United we stand. Divided we fall.” It isn’t “us vs. them”. It’s not about retribution. It’s about The United States of America reaching its true potential, where everyone wins.
This is what too many people have lost sight of. Racists still discriminate against minorities. And in response, too many people have “[sought] to satisfy [their] thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred”.
I believe in Dr. King’s dream. And I still hope that one day I might see it, that I might see an America where we are judged by our merits, not race, where various government leaders and political parties don’t fan flames of racial strife, where the people have chosen to leave behind racism and hate. I look forward to a day when, as Dr. King said, “all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at Last! Free at Last! Thank God Almighty, We’re Free at Last!”
That was Dr. King’s dream. That is my dream. And I believe it really is the dream of the majority of Americans, even if they forget sometimes. May we all remember and live that dream, and make a better and more unified “nation under God, with liberty and justice for all”.