On Monday, January 16 2012, a group of people from our neighborhood gathered together to share food and fellowship and to remember Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement for which he stood. Before eating together, we listened to part of Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” 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 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 a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, 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.
We sat and stood in silence, listening to Dr. King’s powerful words. We sat and stood together: young and old, black and white, male and female, student and teacher, parent and child, poor and well-off…
We listen, we remember, and we are inspired. Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others involved in the civil rights movement were bold enough to dream and to do whatever they needed to do in order to achieve their dream. We are touched and we are inspired and we cry and we pray…but do we dream? So many of us fail to dream because we are afraid to fail. We dream of getting a stable job or finding a spouse or maybe even something crazy like learning to play a few chords on the guitar. We dream of things we know are attainable, we dream of things we know we can achieve.
But the slaves dreamt of freedom. The Israelites dreamt of the promised land. Civil rights activists dreamt of blacks and whites being treated as equals. The people who inspire us, the people we look up to as heroes and role models all have this in common: they allowed themselves to dream. They couldn’t help but dream. They dreamt not for themselves, but for the world.
Let us dream.
We have a dream for our community. We have a dream to not only share the occasional meal or conversation but to share our lives. We have a dream to want for each other what we want for ourselves and to fight for it. We have a dream of sharing each others’ burdens and living lives marked by radical generosity and hospitality.
There’s a woman who lives a few blocks away from us who is dedicated to picking up trash from the side of the road and putting up signs to discourage dumping. She fights to keep her neighborhood clean because she believes it is worth it. She believes that she and her neighbors deserve to live in an area that is clean, pleasant and safe. She has a dream to improve her community and the lives of those who reside there and she is fighting to make her dream a reality.
I have a friend who is a refugee and works harder than anyone I know to single-handedly provide for her five children. She has a dream to raise her family in safety, far from the wars and unrest of her home country. She has a dream for each child, to see them prosper and grow into their full potential. She lives in circumstances that could make the strongest man break down and weep and yet she brings joy to everyone she interacts with. Her laughter and hugs melt away the most disheartening thoughts or situations. She is able to laugh because she allows herself to dream, to have faith that the way things are right now is not the way things will always be.
The people I work with have a dream to end slavery. They have chosen not to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye but to be aware of the monstrosities present in our communities, cities and nations and to combat it with all the tools they have. They have a dream that all children can live in safety and attend school rather than be forced to work. They have a dream that women will be treated as humans rather than objects for pleasure and profit. They have a dream that consumers will rise up and demand products that are free of injustice. Each day they hear and read stories of slavery and oppression in our nation and around the world and each day they continue to pour themselves into the battle for justice.
Let us dream.