Every year on Martin Luther King Day I watch Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I lose my breath for a second, and marvel at the footage, the crowd, and wonder where they are today. I’m especially curious about the little girl in her father’s arms, face turned away from the camera. Where is she today? Has she seen the footage? Does she recognize herself? Her father? Does she remember?
But I digress.
I also cry. But at a very precise moment. It’s towards the end, when the video pans to the Lincoln Memorial for the second time and Dr. King quotes the Declaration of independence:
Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream 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.’
I think it get’s me because it puts me in the past of the past, but also in the present.Seeing the past reference the past is an interesting thing. Especially when the ideas still feel so modern. It’s the then and now, the them and us. This experience of time is confusing, yet familiar, and oh so blurry. And I feel overcome.
An iteration of a notion that has stretched back for multiple generations. While the specifics may have changed (though, not entirely) it suggests that there is still work to do. And maybe that there will always be work to do, and maybe it will always be the same work. Likely, that is the point of it all.
And I surprise myself each time by feeling hopeful, when it would be so simple to feel hopeless.
I pulled a few convictions out of MLK Jr’s words that felt particularly affecting:
“To make real the promises of democracy”
"A brotherhood of mankind"
“Make justice a reality for all of gods children”
“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment”
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”
I suppose forever was meant sincerely.
It’s amazing to consider the steps forward that have been taken, and all the steps back that came along with the progress.
But still I feel hopeful.
I’m no Dr. King, but I have a dream too.
I dream of world where we can live in harmony with each other and with the earth.
- People feel good!
- We have LESS: stress, processed food, pressure to consume—be it resources, products or media
- we can eat good food
- we support our communities
- time is NOT money
- gratitude and appreciation are second nature
- nature trumps science
- corporate greed is recognized and abolished
- the bottom line is trivial
- the insanity of genetically modified foods is recognized
- vegetable gardens and community farms dot every city and town across the globe and provide livelihood and fresh, healthy, sustainable options for sourcing food
- people eat together and celebrate together
- we laugh and sleep long and hard
- we experience the simple pleasures that we have always had, until someone told us what to dream
Maybe it's silly: too simple, too naive, would create unforeseen problems.
But for now, I’m hopeful.
Thank you Dr. King. Happy Birthday.