Time for A New Dream

Why were we so concerned with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. that it resulted in his being shot 50 years ago?
Why did we allow our fear of black people being granted equality to grow such that a bomb went off at a church in Birmingham?
Perhaps it is because of the same fears that lie behind police violence against people of color, fears we have not yet effectively addressed.
Perhaps it is because of the same tensions that cause us to blame the poor for their poverty and the victims of crime for the crimes against them.
Perhaps it is because of the same political forces erected to limit the education available to people of color and the poor.
Perhaps it is because we have not yet accepted that rising to the top of the heap means stepping on others to get there.
Perhaps it is because we fear that an honestly level playing field will take away the advantages we grant to the white and the wealthy.
Perhaps it is because we are afraid deep down that whites are not actually superior to others, but we are unwilling to be honest about it, even with ourselves.

Perhaps it is because we revel in violence, especially against those who are less able to defend themselves.
Perhaps it is because at heart we are a nation of bullies.
Perhaps it is all of these things and more.
We still have not really learned or accepted the vision cast by a black preacher who was shot 50 years ago.

I, for one, share that dream he cast in my infancy, a dream where people of color would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the character of their lives.
Then, again, I would adapt that dream a little. I would expand it to include the acceptance of immigrants, speakers of other languages, people of other cultures, people of other religious traditions, people with disabilities, people with various illnesses, people who do not share a binary view of the world or even of themselves, people without qualification.
You see, I have a dream that we can do better than continuing to silence voices with which we do not agree. I have a dream in which we stop silencing voices that make us uncomfortable. I have a dream for a nation with the courage to march through and beyond our discomfort with opposing or alternative points of view. I have a dream that we can reach the other side of that divide, where we simply accept people as they are. I have a dream that in that land of acceptance, we can build a stronger society than anything we have experienced so far.

We need to move beyond our fears of one another.
We can do so.
We need to come to the table together.
We need to learn to ask better questions.
We need to accept the courage to listen and learn.
We need to join together to find better solutions.
We need to engage in trusting one another a little more each day.
We need to find our common humanity.
We need to adopt each other's children into our hearts and lives.
We need to hear the wisdom of one another's elders.
We need to embrace one another as parts of a larger family.

It is not an easy road to travel.
It resulted in children being attacked by a church bomb.
It occasioned violent response on a bridge with attack dogs.
It ran up against death threats and assassination.
It nailed Jesus to a cross.

It is more than just a dream, however. It is the path we need to walk. It is the way out of the shootings, violence, and killings in which our nation finds itself enmeshed.

We can do better.
We must.
The cycle of violence needs to end.

We need a new dream and people willing to work hard to bring it about.


©Copyright 2018, Christopher B. Harbin  http://www.sermonsearch.com/contributors/104427/ 

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