• We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately. -Benjamin Franklin, Freedom Fighter

  • We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Fighter

  • Let us be cautious in making assertions and critical in examining them, but tolerant in permitting linguistic forms. -Rudolf Carnap, Philosopher

  • A clash of doctrines is not a disaster—it is an opportunity. -Alfred North Whitehead, Philosopher

  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Poet

  • Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. -Rumi, Mystic

  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. – Rene Descartes, Philosopher

  • A house divided against itself cannot stand. -Abraham Lincoln, President

  • Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einstein, Scientist

  • Be the change you want to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi, Freedom Fighter

Martin Luther King Day, 2007

“The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice!”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s been more than 40 years since Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” sermon on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial; more than 40 years since blacks in America’s south could not drink from public water fountains, could not sit at “whites only” lunch counters, could not attend state Universities, could not vote, and could not peacefully demonstrate for their freedom.

I have never understood racial intolerance. Science and religion are united on our unity, our oneness. We are all one people. We are not black or white or red or yellow (or green or purple). Science tells us that we are genetically identical, all descended from a common ancestor 7,000,000 years ago in Africa.

Religions, too, preach the unity of our species; all of us are children of the same one god. Whether we contemplate the mystery of our place in the universe as Jews or Christians or Moslems or Hindus or Buddhists, or even as agnostics or atheists, we contemplate it in the context of our common humanity.

And all religions recognize the golden rule, to love thy neighbor as thyself, to treat others as we would want to be treated, to avoid doing to others what is hateful to ourselves.

We are all one species. We are all interconnected. For as King reminded us from the Birmingham jail:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

King also understood that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice only to the extent that we, the people, so bend it.

Let us therefore seize the opportunity of Martin Luther King Day to rededicate our efforts in support of universal racial harmony and opportunity.

Let us not cease our efforts until Martin Luther King’s dream becomes reality:

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, 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 my four 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.”

Unlike 40 years ago, we now live in a global community. And so, as we work to make Martin Luther King’s dream a reality in America, we must also work to extend it throughout the world.

We must dream of the day when the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds of Iraq live together in peace and freedom, their present nightmare a relic of an earlier past.

We must dream of the day when Israeli and Palestinian stand together, proud and tall in a Middle East oasis that their combined energies have created.

We must dream of the day when Pakistanis and Indians peacefully resolve their differences over a free Kashmir.

We must dream of the day when the peoples of Iran and the peoples of North Korea live together with America in peace and freedom.

We must dream of the day when the peoples of Africa and other economically depressed regions of the world share in the blessings of freedom and liberty.

We must dream of the day when all of our own people live in an America that offers opportunity to all, where all of our children can contribute to the great tasks that lie ahead of us.

As we’ve learned in Iraq, freedom does not come easy. It can’t be imposed. Elections don’t necessarily result in freedom. Elections can also result in civil wars.

As King intuitively understood, as all who have believed in non-violence understand, freedom cannot be forced on others. Freedom is the removal of pressure, not its imposition.

America’s opportunity to shape the world for good is to show by our example how a diverse population can live together in harmony, with mutual respect and understanding, working creatively to evolve a society that works for all.

If America is to be what Jefferson described as the best hope of mankind, it will be so to the extent that Martin Luther King’s dream has become the American reality.

“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 snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!”

“Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!”

“But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!”

“Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!”

“When we let 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, I’m free at last.”

Let freedom ring.




Copyright © 2007. Stan Stahl. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to republish this essay in its entirety provided its source is identified asThe Agnostic Patriot at www.agnosticpatriot.org and this copyright is included.

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