Monday, January 19, 2015

I Don't Have the Words

I write about Martin Luther King, Jr. each January. In preparation to do so again this year, I read through my last three MLK Jr. Day posts and discovered that the words I used to describe my support for and belief in what Dr. King stood for haven't changed much from year to year.

I still believe that all people - regardless of the color of their skin - should be awarded equal rights, access, and protection under our nation's laws. All human beings, simply because they live and breath, should have the right to work and earn an honest living for themselves and their families, the right to vote, the right to a quality education, and the right to use all public places. 

I still hope and pray that all people would be evaluated by their words and actions, and that they in turn would use words and actions to form opinions of others.

And I still hope to teach my children that our differences - from the color of our skin to our religion to our sexuality - are actually what unify us as a people. For while we are all different, it it our differences that make us essentially the same: we are all unique individuals, worthy and deserving of respect and kindness from our fellow human beings. Our differences should be celebrated instead of ignored, or worse, used to justify discrimination. 

Last year these words were enough. They weren't perfect, or complete, but they adequately expressed what our world looks and feels like in my dreams and what I want my children to understand about Dr. King's contributions to mankind.

This year, however, these words seem flawed, insufficient. The controversial and divisive deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos highlight just how great the distance we have yet to travel on our quest to reach Dr. King's goals of empowerment, equality, and peace.

This year I don't have the words, so I share his instead.

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 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.

This year I don't have the words, but I have the same dream. The question is…why is it still a dream?

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