question by:Bill McKenzie / Editorial Columnist
Is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream for America achievable?
At heart, King was a minister, not a politician. He relied upon the Scriptures to inform his views of equality, along with his own experiences. He studied theologians like Reinhold Niebuhr, as well as philosopher-leaders like Mahatma Gandhi. And he led interfaith groups on marches, not Republicans or Democrats in their caucuses.
In short, he was more prophetic like Amos or Isaiah than political like JFK or LBJ. The prophets of old presented a vision for their people, whether the people liked it or not.
Similarly, King presented a vision, a modern one where he imagined “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
But is that dream realistic? Are we too constrained by our own natures to realize that kind of harmony?
In Time this month, author Jon Meacham hints at this dilemma when he writes:
“The death of Jim Crow is an epic story, but it is no fairy tale, for the half-century since the 1963 March on Washington has surely taught us that while African Americans are largely living happier lives, no one can sensibly say that everyone is living happily ever after. The dream of which King spoke was less a dream to bring about on this side of paradise than a prophetic vision to be approximated, for King’s understanding of equality and brotherhood was much likelier to be realized in the kingdom of God than in any mortal realm.In Washington to demand legislative action, King spoke as a minister of the Lord, invoking the meaning of Sermon on the Mount in a city more often interested in the mechanics of the Senate.”
AMY MARTIN, Director Emeritus of Earth Rhythms and Writer/editor Moonlady News Newsletter
Will we ever achieve racial equality? Or economic justice? Or full rights and respect for women? Or environmental sustainability? Or compassion for animals? Or religious tolerance?
Certainly. And when we do, Washington D.C. will have little to do with it. It will require individuals en masse deciding “We don’t want to live like this anymore.” From that simple decision, change happens, creating a chain reaction that eventually reaches the Senate floor.
Why certainly? Because evolution is the engine that drives the planet on all levels. It’s our expectations that must adjust. Evolution is not a smooth process of ascendancy. It proceeds in sprints and saunters, short periods of intense progress and long periods of complacency, punctuated by bursts and backslides.
And so we dance. Two steps forward and one step back is not only progress, it’s a cha-cha.