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Monday, January 21, 2008

I Have A Dream: Are We There?

“We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.” - Jesse Owens

Let's look at the 3 main "Dream Points" of Martin Luther King Jr's famous speech:

  • "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."
  • "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 they be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

All men are created equal - I would say that we get close to this one sometimes, I would agree that we are all created equal, but don't have equal opportunities based on other factors - birth place, educational opportunities, etc. I don't think it is fair to say that the "American Dream" is truly obtainable by everyone. There are great stories of individuals who have overcome and shown that they are equal, but there is still much work to be done.

Judged by the content of their Character - I don't think this would be true across the board either. Racism is a beast that just won't go away in many pockets around the country. It is sadly something that has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. African-Americans (and other ethnic minorities) sometimes live up to the low/negative expectations that the majority culture has placed on them. Successful minorities are often rejected by their community as "selling out". I think it is a great tribute that Barack Obama is having real success as a presidential contender, but his run has also showcased some of the underlying race tensions still in the US from both sides. There have been many other notable standouts who have been judged based on their ability not the color of their skin.

Sitting in Brotherhood - What is brotherhood? Webster's says that brotherhood is being like brothers or having fellowship/association. This may be one that we are the closest to really reaching. Up and down the social ladder you can see blacks (and minorities) hanging out with "white" people. I think individuals are often engaged in similar pursuits and they are able to individually put aside color of skin and other differences in pursuit of a common goal and enjoy true fellowship/brotherhood.

As I re-read and discussed this with my wife, we have very different opinions and perspectives. I think we have grown up in different worlds and seen different things. It is possible that my thoughts are skewed by the small pocket of the country I grew up in (rural Ohio) and lived (rural Indiana). I may be unfairly projecting my experiences onto the rest of the country. I believe in MLK's dream and want to see it come to fruition. I have been actively engaged in helping to spread the dream throughout different parts of my life.

Please share your thoughts with me today.

I also wrote a tribute to Jesse Owens on my running blog.


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