The Dream Still Lives
Forty years ago today, the world lost a transformative -and for generations then and to come- inspiring figure. Although Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed on that April evening in Memphis long ago, his dream could not be. It is the birthright of every man and woman, regardless of the color of their skin or the religion they follow, to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. And it is the obligation of each generation to ensure that principle is never forgotten. This was the teaching of a man who believed in change, but also in peace. Coincidentally, his teachings came at a time of another distant war that divided America, Vietnam, and during a period of economic unease and growing income disparity which Dr. King eloquently opposed.
A milestone of a very different kind was also observed recently: the 75th anniversary of the Reichstag’s passage on March 23, 1933 of the infamous Enabling Act, which set the stage for Hitler’s absolute grip on power. What is often overlooked is that he came to his autocratic perch through democratic means in free elections held months before.
For Germany, Hitler was a turning point toward a dark and evil future that would consume much of the world. For America, and for lands beyond not even born when he was alive, Dr. King served as a turning point toward a brighter path where men and women would be measured by the “content of their character.” One leader was driven by hatred and intolerance. The other was called by a devotion to peace and the cause of bringing people together so that we may all fulfill our God given potential.
What a difference leaders can make in the destinies of people and nations. The best of them summon hopes in us that we could never dream by ourselves. The best teach us that we can be greater than we ever thought and give us the courage to venture into the winds of injustice or strive to make a better home. And when they leave us, after the tears and memories have finally faded, they leave us still with the dream. And we go into the light of day to change the world, one generation after another, one dreamer at a time.