• 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, 2008

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

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sixty years ago, in 1948, Southern Democrats, led by South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond, broke from the Democratic Party because Northern liberals introduced a civil rights plank into the Democratic platform. Thurmond and his allies formed the States’ Rights Democratic Party, whose slogan was “Segregation Forever!” In addition to winning South Carolina in the general election, the party also won the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

In 5 days, Democrats in South Carolina will make their choice for the Democratic nominee for President. The general consensus is that one of two candidates will win. One happens to be black. The other happens to be a woman.

Set aside for the moment what you might think of Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. That’s not what this moment is about. This is a moment to reflect on how far we have come in 60 years.

Sixty years ago, “Negroes” in Thurmond’s segregated South Carolina paid taxes but could not vote, sent their children to segregated schools, drank from segregated water fountains, sat in the back of the bus, could not eat at the “Whites Only” lunch counter, swim in the “Whites Only” pool, or pray in the “Whites Only” churches, had to cross the street when a white man was coming, and lived in fear of beatings, burnings and lynchings.

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

And now, 60 years after “Segregation Forever,” a black man and a woman are competing to win the South Carolina Democratic Presidential primary.

“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.’”

Imagine that young black child, or that young girl, in 1963, the year of the March on Washington, the year Martin Luther King gave his I Have a Dream speech. Imagine this young man and woman dreaming of becoming President of the United States of America.

 “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.”

Dreams come in all the colors of the human rainbow. Dreams cross the cultural divide. Heartfelt dreams for ennobling the human spirit live in the secular left and the religious right, and everyplace in between … Dreams that carry within them the heart and soul of America.

King has been gone for nearly 40 years. But his dream did not die with him. We see it alive today in the candidacies of Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton.

“This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’”

Unlike 40 years ago, we now live in a global community. And so, as we continue to work to make Martin Luther King’s dream a reality in America, let us also imagine a world in which all share the dream.

“I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”

Let us dream of the day Iraqis live together in peace and freedom, their present nightmare a relic of an earlier past.

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

Let us dream of the day when Afghans, Pakistanis, and all those throughout the Middle East live free, with liberty and justice for all.

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

Let us 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.

 “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.”

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

“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 © 2008. 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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