First, from a very articulate man:
“I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
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 out in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So, let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow–capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.”
—Excerpts from the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Then, from a far less articulate man, Mr. Rodney King, who coined the phrase,
“Can’t we all just get along?”
Now, from a man who hopes his articulation is understood (me):
“Whether we are from cultured or less–cultured backgrounds, we can all sense that this world is not fair and the Great Experiment that is the United States is struggling. Though we were started on the premise that all were created equal (I know it initially said ‘men’), we have been struggling with that from the beginning. There were disclaimers relative to gender and race that were built in so that we are still trying to break the shackles of incomplete truths.
Having been on this planet now for well over half a century, I know that we have come a long way. Yet, I also know that we have a long way to go so that all will feel they are equal. This transcends race and gender and speaks into the frailties of humanity.
We have come a long way, but I have seen that, with every three steps forward, we take two steps back. We get complacent and pat ourselves on the shoulder then slide back into the status quo.
Things are better, but I believe God wants more from us. He would not want us to become polarized by those who may have a different agenda. We, as Salvationist, have to be about “Doing the Most Good,” regardless. Why? Because we do not serve the left or the right, we serve the Lord and His people.
I pray that we all would stay the course, seek understanding of all people and seek to draw them to Christ. I guess you would say “I, too, have a dream.” The dream is for the young child in the hills of Appalachia, in el barrio, and in the ghetto. The dream is that we would do better for them all.”
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
—Lt. Colonel Raphael Jackson is the Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army’s Greater New York Division and Territorial Secretary for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (Secretario Territorial de Equidad, Diversidad e Inclusión).
Photo credit: (AP Images)