Monday, January 16, 2012

I Too, Have a Dream

I am overwhelmed by the respect I have for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who fought so hard for freedom through nonviolence. A man who had the belief and the drive and the heart to lead our country and inspire others to insist on their personal freedom. A man who risked his own life for the good of everyone else. 

For these reasons, I make it a point every year to watch the "I Have a Dream" speech. Not only is Dr. MLK Jr. a powerful orator, but his speech at Lincoln Memorial serves as a sharp reminder of what has been and what can still be. This year, thanks to Jessica, I've added the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" to this tradition.

I have never personally experienced such severe discrimination and injustice; it pains me to know that people did and still do. I've had my fair share of racist remarks, but never violence and never the absence of freedom.

If you don't recall the injustices from the tumultuous 1960s, here is an excerpt from the "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" that explains why we cannot wait to forge change:

"Perhaps it is easy for those have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policement curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of the affluent society; when you suddently find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people, when you have to conduct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your las name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait."

We have made great strides in this country, but there is no way we are close to being finished.

I have a dream, that one day, everyone will have the right to be married, based on their love for another person, not on their sexual orientation. I have a dream that no one will be driven to suicide by the hatred and ridicule of others. I have a dream that racial profiling and hate crimes will cease to exist. I have a dream, that one day no one will have to worry about whether or not they get to eat. I have a dream that no person will be sexually trafficked and forced to live a dark life against their will. I have a dream that the words rape, school shooting, war and terrorist will be obsolete from our vocabularies. I too, have a dream.

Martin Luther King, Jr. died for what he believed in and thought you weren't living if you weren't willing to die for anything. His son explains that if he was alive today, he would have fought for the rights of women, gay people, immigrants, trade unions and anyone who was oppressed. I have thought, "If I was alive then, I would have marched on Washington with them." But I'm alive today, so I need to do something, or my complacency will be worse than someone who is outright against equality. What are you willing to die for? How will you change the course of our history?

1 comment:

Whatcha thinkin'?