Everyone should take time today to think about the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – even those who are quick to discredit his life and his purpose. Let’s all remember that no man is perfect, and even men who are imperfect can bring to the world outstanding messages!
As we look around in our own lives, we can see that much progress has been made toward equality. But when we witness the tendency to judge so many news stories and events along racial lines, we are reminded that we still have challenges ahead.
Racial segregation in 2014 is not as blatant as it was when blacks were physically segregated with separate schools, water fountains, bathrooms, banned from lunch counters and relegated to the back of public buses; but the progress realized in ending the most obvious aspects of segregation should not make us blind to the continuing, yet more subtle, forms of judgment and discrimination in America.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech should be remembered and celebrated as a message about the promise that in America, everyone should be treated equally. That historic speech focused on the injustices against blacks that contradicted the intent of our Founding Fathers. Today, the message of that speech should be applied to the injustices that still exist and the new injustices that challenge what it means to be a real American.
In remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the dreams he had for America, we can all take inventory of our hearts and minds and realize that we are truly in need of people who have dreams for this country.
I have a dream that… in this increasingly divided America, we can all realize that we are human beings first. We are humans before we are Americans. We are Americans before we are liberals and conservatives. Many Americans are willing to identify themselves first, as conservative or liberal before thinking of themselves as Americans – and nowhere is this more obvious than in Washington, D.C.
I have a dream that… all Americans will understand that freedom of speech protects the rights of others to say things they disagree with and that disagreement should be appreciated as one of the unique freedoms of being an American. As a radio talk show host, I witness a growing disrespect for freedom of speech every day when disagreement over issues so quickly becomes a reason to hate.
I have a dream that… all Americans will return to respecting and teaching the importance of personal accountability. We have become a nation that continues to show diminished respect for the concept of individuals accepting responsibility for their actions. Bartenders and wait staff now being held accountable for customers who drink too much and drive home is a perfect microcosm of a society that is willing to blame someone or something else for their mistakes in life. Another excellent example is the trend of blaming violent video games or entertainment for the violent behavior of young generations. There was a time in America when blaming a form of entertainment would never have been considered as an excuse for negative actions – why has it become acceptable today?
I have a dream that… all Americans will come to understand that life isn’t fair and that you are not entitled to a job, happiness, money or anything tangible. You are only entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I have a dream that… all Americans that stop instinctively resisting change in this country out of the fear that all change is bad. Change is the basis of everything and change is inevitable. Those who are quick to protest certain changes have reaped the benefits of past changes – so why not embrace change, rather than condemn it based on fear?
I have a dream that… parents will once again learn to be parents. You cannot always be your kid’s best friend – but you always must be their parent. For all of us to live in a civilized society, every parent must teach their children right from wrong and that there are always consequences for negative behavior. I have a dream that parents who bring children into this world will understand that their child cannot be good at everything and that failures and losses are part of the human existence. But we learn from our failures and losses how to be better at things we can be better at and we then discover what we are best at.
I have a dream that… all Americans will stop blaming the government for everything that is wrong in their lives, when most of their problems result from actions and events that are beyond the control of the government.
I have a dream that… all Americans will understand that the government cannot take away your faith or your religious beliefs and we should be afraid of those who promote the idea of the government being involved in making moral decisions about the private lives of individuals. Any alleged war on Christianity will cause no collateral damage in the faith and beliefs of those who truly have faith and beliefs.
As a society, we are easily herded into groups, which leads to enhancing our differences rather than celebrating what we have in common. Watching, hearing or reading the news on a daily basis, we can be led to believe that our power to manifest positive change is hopeless. We look to the President and other elected officials to change America for the better, when the real power to change lies within each individual American.
What we do in our everyday lives, how we react to others, how we treat others and the dreams and morality we pass on to our children are the things that define America.
Our nation is nothing more than a collection of individuals and we cannot expect our nation to be better than the individuals that make up America. So, rather than look to those we think have power, let us look at ourselves, as individuals, and realize that we have the power to change America!
And that’s the message we should focus on as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.