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I STILL HAVE A DREAM – Dec 27

December 27, 2014

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior gave, in my estimation, one of the great political speeches of American history. On that day, he encapsulated the purpose and vision of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in a mere 17 minutes.

He encouraged the nation to hope.

He showed the nation that there was something worth dreaming for.

He reminded the nation of the injustice that the black community was suffering.

He elicited our founding principles “that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights of  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ and asserted that America had defaulted on its promise of  “the riches of freedom and the security of justice”.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior had a dream. It is a dream that I share with him.

“…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.”

“… 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.”

“… 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.”

“… 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.”

“… 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.”

“… 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.” I share his dream!

~ Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.; I have a Dream

I was not alive when Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to cast this dream to America. Yet, his vision has been my adult hope for the race relations of United States.

Therefore, I have deeply despaired over the images that have appeared on my television screen during 2014. I have witnessed the violence of demonstrations in Ferguson, New York and across the country. I have been repulsed by the injustice of rampaging demonstrators assaulting and destroying property in the justification of injustice.

I read this morning of the wakes for the New York police officers killed in retribution for the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

What have we come to?

Dr. King appealed to the civil rights movement:

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

I feel my hope for freedom and the security of justice from 1963 being lost in the wrongful deeds, bitterness and hatred of 2014. What has happened to the high plane of dignity and discipline? Where are the majestic heights of Dr. King’s “soul force”?

Has the reality of life killed the dream we’ve dreamed?

I have been reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. So, my thoughts have returned to the injustice of his creation in order to make sense of our current reality. I wonder if Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of a dream lost to a horrible and unjust world fits the hopelessness of many engaged in the protests.

Are there dreams that cannot be?
Are there storms that we cannot weather?

It seems to me that the interior despair of Jean Valjean described by Hugo so many years ago is the source of the hatred and bitterness behind what we have seen this last year.

He (Valjean) asked himself whether human society could have the right to force its members to suffer equally in one case for its own unreasonable lack of foresight, and in the other case for its pitiless foresight; and to seize a poor man forever between a defect and an excess, a default of work and an excess of punishment.

Whether it was not outrageous for society to treat thus precisely those of its members who were the least well endowed in the division of goods made by chance, and consequently the most deserving of consideration.

These questions put and answered, he judged society and condemned it.

He condemned it to his hatred.

He made it responsible for the fate which he was suffering, and he said to himself that it might be that one day he should not hesitate to call it to account….

Anger may be both foolish and absurd; one can be irritated wrongfully; one is exasperated only when there is some show of right on one’s side at bottom. Jean Valjean felt himself exasperated…

From suffering to suffering, he had gradually arrived at the conviction that life is a war; and that in this war he was the conquered. He had no other weapon than his hate. He resolved to whet it in the galleys and to bear it away with him when he departed.

Les-Mis-ValjeanI have seen much exasperation this last year. It appears to be an exasperation cloaked in hate, manifested in hopelessness, waging a losing societal war by burning down its own communities. It is an exasperation that appears to condemn the American dream in hatred for being a dream that cannot be.

This is my conclusion because I do not believe that violence springs forth from the high plane of dignity and discipline or the majestic height of Dr. King’s “soul force”.

Are there dreams that cannot be?
Are there storms that we cannot weather?

Should we weep the loss of Dr. King’s dream
to the realities of a cruel, inequitable and unjust world?

I do believe that those in the poverty of black communities do not have the same trust in their security of justice that I know. I do believe that I have been endowed with a freedom of opportunity by the “chance” of my birth that most in poverty will never know.

I also believe that most of those subjected to this justice system are there, just as Jean Valjean, as a result of wrongful acts of their own making. I believe that the ladder rungs of the American dream reach down to all levels of poverty, allowing anyone with the will to climb the freedom to rise above their condition and escape from a culture of despair.

I do not have the answer to our racial problems of 2014. I do not believe that the answer is in more legislation and laws.

I believe that the answer is in redemption.

Les Miserable is a story of redemption.

Dr. King’s dream is a vision of redemption.

Redeeming our society into something better than it has ever been; a society where blacks and whites really will join hands as brothers and sisters. We need each other. Our freedom, blacks and whites, are inextricably linked.

True redemption is what our country needs.

A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.  (Isaiah 40:3-5)

I still have a dream but my hope is personal redemption of those who are suffering. My hope is that they will be freed from their despair, bitterness, and hatred by the only source that I know is capable of the monumental task – Jesus Christ. Through Christ, all things are possible.

What we need are voices crying into the wilderness of the black communities saying “prepare the way of the Lord”.

We need voices condemning the injustices against blacks.

Equally, we need voices condemning wrongful deeds and physical violence; condemning those who seek to satisfy their thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We need voices calling the struggle against injustice to the high plane of dignity and discipline.

We need voices to call us to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

That is when our society will begin to take its next redemptive steps on the road toward racial harmony.

Therefore, in the words of Dr. King:

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

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.

PRAYER: Father, heal our land.  Cure us from our violence and hatred.  Remove our bitterness and despair.  Give us hope.  A hope that will not disappoint.  A hope set upon you, the living God, who is the Savior of all people.  Lord, send us leaders who will lead us in righteousness and unity.   Give them voices to call us from the wilderness of  enmity.  Father, bring forgiveness and understanding to our country.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One comment

  1. When we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior we transform from dream to hope. It is a hope not born out of a dream but a hope born out of a death more horrible than any we bear witness to in these days, be it Ferguson, Cleveland, Pakistan or any number of streets and cities in the world. It too is the death of someone innocent, innocent not just of wrongdoing but innocent and pure. What makes that death elevate above all of the others is that Jesus chose to go to this death in order to pay the price for you and me and anyone who would receive His work on the cross.

    Yes, all of the violence and death and evil this past year greatly upsets me to my core. Yet there will be no end to it until Jesus returns in glory. May that day be soon.



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