What’s Your Dream?
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood….I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”-Martin Luther King, Jr., August, 28th, 1963
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi‘s peaceful protests in India, which were influential in freeing nearly a fifth of the human race. And so, he used Gandhi’s approach of non-violence to begin a movement for eliminating racism (A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Denise Noe, 1/14/07). For King, it was not about fighting against something, but rather transcending and overcoming. Instead of resisting the master/slave paradigm, which was still fully operative during his life-time, he set out to facilitate the growth of the human spirit beyond hatred, separation, lack, and limitation. King focused on what he was for, not what he was against.
When Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus on December 1, 1955 and was subsequently arrested, King became involved. Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery, Alabama‘s policy of bus segregation was unconstitutional. This event was the beginning of an unprecedented revolution of justice making for the human race.
If Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been taken by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, nearly forty years ago, what might he say about our current state of affairs as a nation…as a world? Today, it would seem utterly absurd to think about sending someone to the back of the bus because of her/his racial orientation. Nonetheless there are other atrocities, which persist, and even abound. We know them by heart. Sometimes they are in the distance and all too often, they can be close to home.
And yet in our illusory states of cozy comfort, we sometimes ignore these atrocities because addressing them might require some inconvenience. Still, they rumble in the corners of our consciousness like a simmering storm. It’s as though we know the squall is coming and yet on some level we don’t really believe it will ever materialize. So we go on about our coffee/cocktail talk, making pleasant conversation while sometimes bickering and babbling about our complaints over this and that. But at the end of the day, who is staring back at us in the mirror as we brush our teeth and prepare to put on our fuzzy slippers? Who is really accountable for creating the changes that will truly make a difference?
Every single one of us is responsible. Responsible to ourselves and responsible to each other. Responsible for noticing what we are for instead of what we are against. Responsible for noticing people’s strengths and not their weaknesses. Responsible for discovering what we want to change, and then taking steps to get started (or continue) in making change happen.
Gandhi said, “Become the change you want to see in the world.”
If you could become this change, what would that look like? How would you begin (or continue) to follow your dream for transformation, starting with yourself? It may be inconvenient to launch this mysterious voyage. And yet, ask yourself which is the greater risk? Is it moving forward out of your comfort zone, or staying put in the familiar, predictable patterns of your existence?