Today we honor Dr. Martian Luther King Jr. a man who changed the world. Dr. King found himself in a world riddled with injustice and bigotry, and though he was but one man he set out to fight that injustice. This one ordinary man, born to a life so many others had found themselves in for a century, stood up, while so many others sat down. He transcended the station of his birth, and set forth to achieve his dream.
We all can learn something from Dr. King, for he reminded us that there is strength in peace, and power in respect. He changed the world, shifted the paradigm of countless Americans, and he did so without threatening violence. He did so without demanding restitution, or seeking revenge. I am inspired by Dr. King, because of his self control. I often find myself fighting back a fiery temper that resides within my soul, a fight which I often lose. When I feel as though I am beaten, when I cannot continue the fight, I look to men like Dr. King and through his example I find my courage. Here was a man who had every right to hate, yet spoke of love. He had every right to seek revenge, yet preached peace. He had every right to seek out a blind justice for the atrocities thrust upon minorities for generations, yet he sought equality. He had every right to vilify and isolate the bigots that had so wronged the minorities of this country, yet he spoke, and fought for unity. Such unwavering dedication, and belief helps me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, it is a light for me in the darkest of tunnels.
I find myself admiring Dr. King, and striving to emulate him. Many might find that odd, considering that I am a conservative, and conservatives hate the minorities, or at least that is what the progressives would have you believe. The debate between conservatives and progressives is a debate almost as old as civil rights themselves. It is this debate, this battle between liberty and tyranny that I fear will someday taint the greatness of Dr. King.
Dr. King spoke of a time when “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.” He told the world of his wild eyed dream, “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.” Dr. King spoke of equality, and justice. Yet there are those out there now, who would seek to corrupt his dream, to tarnish his unwavering light. Those who once fought beside him for equality, who have lost their way, and now those whom Dr. King fought for as nothing more than a gateway to political power. There are those who claim to have taken up the mantel of Dr. King, those who claim to be marching for the same goal, who seeks to use fear and racism as a political weapon. These worms, devoid of virtue, would use the memory of Martian Luther King to divide this nation.
Dr. King spoke of, fought, and died for a world where “one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” How can one ever sit down in brotherhood, when they are plotting the down fall of the other? When I see these race baiters proclaiming themselves the civil-rights fighters of the 21st century that fiery temper of mine begins to boil, I have to remind myself to take the high road, to be the better man.
They call it social justice, where the descendents of those who wronged must pay the descendents of the wrong. It is a system where those who are now successful must be punished, in the name of those who have not yet reached their desired station in life. This demand for so called “social justice” is nothing more than ancient rancor bitterly clinging to the past, a vengeful phantom seeking to wet its blood lust. What so many now call Social Justice is an affront to the dreams and the memory of Dr. King, and will only seek to further the divide in this nation.
This sickness has infected even President Obama, a man whom so many thought would finally herald of the fruition of Dr. King’s fantastic dream, cannot let go of the bigotries of the past. Even he, a man who owes his place in history to the dreams of Dr. King, seeks to corrupt them for political gain. In 2001 Barack Obama had this to say about the civil rights movement “But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution,” that in and of itself is not a damnation, however, he continued on and said “think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that” All he can see, is a way to move forward the collapse of the American Republic, and he does so through the use of old wounds. To think that this man, the man that so many thought would herald in a new age of peace and unity, an age that would transcend race, class, and creed, could use the civil rights movement as a tool to push for his dream of a socialist state.
I fear that the lessons of the civil rights movement will be lost to history, if we do not stop the course that we are on. I fear that they will become nothing but a foot note, in the history of something I do not want to be a part of. I see the world differently than most, and I am proud to admit that. I do not care about the color of your skin, the type of car you drive, what religion you are, or who you love. I care about how you live your life. By which I mean, live your life the way you see fit, so long as it neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my bones. I too dream of a world, unified in the beliefs our founding fathers put forth in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.” This is a dream that Dr. King shared.
I leave you now, but before I go I want to leave you with a thought. How can you bring about the dream that so many share with Dr. King? How best can we bring about a nation unified in brotherhood, is it through division and revenge, or through equality and understanding? I take my leave, pounder that, and reflect on the words of Dr. King.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so 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 have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
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.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3