The Courage to Dream for Myself
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day and I can remember when it wasn’t an observance or a holiday. History has done to King what is had done to most of history – it has turned him into a romantic notion.
We think of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech as the ultimate King. He gave a rousing speech to an almost endless sea of people and the next day, racism died in America.
Except it didn’t.
As much as I love the speech from the March on Washington, my favorite MLK speech isn’t a speech at all. It’s A Letter from Birmingham jail.
Knitsville is snow covered and peaceful tonight but there is a single light in the town square as a reminder that a single light can cast away far shadows. I did not and do not have the courage at my age today that MLK had at 39. I don’t know that I will ever have that much courage. But as I enter this last phase of life, I find I have, at long last, The Courage to Dream for Myself. There are things I want and can now think about getting which is a step towards getting them.
That is a good thing. Knitsville is not more reality than dream but there’s more to go with it than where it is right now. I believe I will get us there.
I have no doubt MLK was not thinking about knitting when he wrote that letter but he was thinking about life and the right to create the life we wanted without being encumbered by other folk’s notion of who and what a black person could be. So he wasn’t thinking about knitting but he was thinking about me and I think about knitting and the spiritual blessing it is and the joy it brings to my life and it is part of that dream I have of what a perfect day in a perfect life would look like.
If you haven’t read past the typical observances of Dr. King, I encourage you to read about the last few years of his life when he was vilified by blacks and whites alike, Republicans and Democrats too. He had begun a new focus on poverty and war and he wasn’t appreciated because he didn’t ‘stay in his lane.’
I have a greater appreciation of what he did and how he did it. I may not be as brave but I am just a little braver than I was yesterday and not as brave as I will be tomorrow. I have dreams for myself and that includes making the entire world better.