Thursday of this week Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 80 years old. A week from today some individuals and organizations will celebrate the national holiday in his honor. I often reference Dr. King, perhaps that comes from watching, listening and reading everything I can find that he was involved in. There’s no wonder it has influenced my thinking.
Now I clearly understand that there will be some who may respect what Dr. King and many others did, but feel that it doesn’t apply to them on the basis of race. I hope you reconsider that position during the course of this week, because it is much more than that. I’m absolutely positive there’s someone who can testify to that truth.
There are some individuals who to this day could care less about Dr. King and only equate him to a single speech (I Have a Dream) that they couldn’t reference more than the title or two or three key phrases. And that’s OK, because everyone doesn’t care or have the desire or the time to explore the various social issues of life outside of their own or their inner circle.
I’ve had plenty of people of various races look at me strange after they ask me “Who am I listening to?” and I say, “a speech by Martin Luther King“. That’s when the confused looks begin. I often respond to their expression by asking “Who did you think I would be listening to?”
Well this week I want to focus on the things that I’ve learned over the past several years that appeared to be important to Dr. King. I will do my best to steer clear of unrelated political analysis unless something major occurs.
I decided to begin with a poem written by Langston Hughes that seems to be a good starting point to where I want to go this week. “I Dream a World” seems to lend my mind to a similar train of thought that Dr. King once called, “The Beloved Community.”
I Dream a World by Langston Hughes:
“I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
and peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!”
To remix a quote by Sojourner Truth when she said, “the hardest part of the Underground Railroad was not helping free slaves, but to convince them that they’re free.”
As we look at the conflicts around the world you must wonder what they’re thinking and in the end was it really worth it. Just step back for a minute and imagine a world without all of the disputes over things they don’t really own, power, land, oil, diamonds, food and other natural resources. Then think about what could be done if we all adopted the mindset that we’re all are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Maybe then we will begin to study war no more and work for resolution, reconciliation and peace.
Many people are wasting precious time on selfish things instead of concerning themselves with the needs of others. Dr. Martin Luther King once said that “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” President John F. Kennedy asked a similar question,”Ask not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for others.” To dream a world is not just an American idea, an European idea, an African idea or an Asian or Islamic idea, but a concept far too many people in the world are not longer concerned with.
Perhaps it’s just a utopian dream of an open minded thinker, but I guess “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”