On August 11, 1956 Martin Luther King, Jr. stated:
”Let nobody fool you. All the loud noises we hear today are nothing but the death groans of the dying system. The old order is passing away; the new order is coming into being. But whenever there is anything new there are new responsibilities. As we think of this coming new world we must think of the challenge that we confront and the new responsibilities that stand before us. We must prepare to live in a new world.”
As we pause to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., it is safe to say that King was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things. So extraordinary that our nation has issued a holiday to a man who wasn’t a president, a senator, or a congressman. But to a man who had a dream.
As I think about King’s dream, my mind goes back to when I was just a child. I think back on my childhood years, and I am reminded of those critical times riding in my parent’s vehicle, during those long trips where I would ask that famous question: “Are We There Yet?”
I’ve now come to the conclusion of why I would ask this question. I would ask this question because I was restless. I would ask this question because I was tired. I would ask this question because I was anxious. Yes, I was anxious to get to the destination.
In other words, I was not content with being in the car. Why? Because I knew the car was supposed to be somewhere else and it hadn’t gotten there yet. The beauty of it is this – once the car got there, I got there. And so it is with our country, which leads to me to again ask the question: “Are We (as a country) There Yet?”
We must answer this question! Answering this question will determine what shape our world will be in when we hand it over to the next generation, realizing that we are only here for a short period of time. King understood this too.
This is why he dreamed. When we think about King and his legacy, we focus on the delivery of his great speech. Many of us, however, miss the true message. For the sake of clarity, the speech was originally titled “Normalcy, Never Again.”
In this speech he was telling us that mediocrity was not okay. That injustice was intolerable. That racism was objectionable. And that for us to not fight for our lives, and the future of our children, was unacceptable.
It wasn’t until toward the end of this famous speech that Mahalia Jackson shouted out from the crowd, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” At this moment, King stopped delivering his prepared speech and went on to tell the world his dream. So, just as the great Mahalia Jackson called on Martin to tell his dream, I call on you to tell your dream!
In my younger days I loved the game ‘Truth or Dare’ – it was one of my favorites. Shall we play it for a moment…?
The truth is, yes we have come far, but we still have a long way to go. The truth is many of us have become content with public success, and private failure. The truth is, we cannot move forward when we allow our history to determine our destiny. The truth is those before us spent their lives fighting for ours, and yet we waste our time and in turn we hold a funeral for our opportunities. The truth is we have let our emotions, overpower our intelligence.
But then there is the dare…
I dare you to not be another statistic. I dare you to be a mentor to a child, and change the way children are growing up in our country. I dare you to step out on faith, even when you don’t see the entire staircase. I dare you to find something you are willing to die for, and live for it.
I dare you to dream…
© David McGhee