What are you hungry for? What do you reach for to feed your soul?
Forty Five years ago today, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared with the world a very simple yet profound dream. He made it clear that after so many marches, so many nights in jail, so many threats against his life…so many times when it was clear that he would stand alone in his convictions, what his soul longed for most was just for America to be America for us all.
Yes, America is the place that stole the dreams and the land of Native Americans, stole Africans from our native lands to thrust us into slavery, and yes, America is still the place that struggles to accept the full humanity of women.
But America is also the place that inspires dreams.
The key is to teach our children to dream the kind of dreams that don’t require someone else to live a nightmare. My dreams are not God-inspired if they cause or support your oppression. Unchecked materialism — a bigger house, more bank, more cars, more clothes, more stuff, more, more, more…that’s not the substance of dreams. That is the nightmare in the making. Those dreams require the oppression of someone — more for me and less for you. Those dreams feed cynicism because they always come crashing down — if not for me while I’m living high, then for the next generation when the bill comes “due.”
All day today, I have been thinking about the fact that in the year that I was born into a situation where my family could see no hope — there was a young man who shared a dream filled with hope. It was a dream that started with his own children, but included me, too!
I was too young to hear it.
For years, I did not understand it because it just did not seem real.
But today — his dream feeds me.
The idea that we can create a world where our children will not be judged by their skin color, gender, family circumstance….that’s still heady stuff for me. You will never understand this kind of dream if you don’t know how to dream it for others.
On this 45th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” — I hope that you will be horrified by the nightmares we have inherited: nightmares where where 9.4 million children go without health insurance; nightmares where little Black and Latino boys are guaranteed jail cells instead of a decent education; nightmares where we see mothers and fathers working full-time jobs (sometimes two jobs), with no reasonable hope of escaping poverty.
I pray that you will be horrified by the buildings that pretend to be schools, but in reality, serve as prison training grounds for poor children.
I hope that you will be horrified by the growth of HIV AIDS rates in poor communities across the country, across the world.
I hope that you will be horrified by how little our children really know of the God who created them, loves them, aches for them to come home, and will hold us all accountable for passing on to them the” faintest of impressions” of faith.
The best thing to do when you are having a nightmare is to wake up!
While we have breath, let’s get up and work for a different ending to the story. Faith fed by hope that includes us all can only inspire big dreams, and believe it or not, even in the land of nightmares…dreams can come true.