Will the dream ever become a reality?

January 15 will mark the 90th birthday of one of my greatest heroes, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As I have mentioned countless times in this column, I still vividly recall that fateful day on April 4, 1968 when a small bullet brought to a halt an enormous heart and an even larger soul.

Rev. King was just 39 years old when he was called from this life way too soon,  by our standards, but that’s where we have to put trust in the Almighty Who has everything in order, despite what we humans think.

Rev. King was a Baptist minister and a non-violent social activist. I feel his legacy and history become more faded as each year passes.

This giant of a man is perhaps best known for his “I have a dream” speech given Aug. 28, 1963 before a quarter of a million people in Washington, D.C., ironically in the shadow of the memorial dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln, another big-hearted man brought down by a tiny bullet. The words reverberate today as much as they did then: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” 

Sadly, not much has changed in this country since those epic words more than a half century ago.

Politics has become uglier. I can’t recall a time when tolerance of others has been lower.

We live in a country where many people think they are right and everyone who doesn’t think and act as they do are wrong.

Rev. King preached social justice but never preached violence as the way to achieve it.

That philosophy has vanished into thin air. Far too many like-minded individuals have morphed into mobs where anything goes — violence, slurs, lies, vulgarities — all in the name of their cause.

Rev. King once said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” Oh, if it was ever thus.

If anything, racism against African-Americans has expanded and branched off to include other races, religions, creeds, life-styles and politics.

America was once known as the Melting Pot, for its open arms welcoming those who seek a better life for their families.

That melting pot has become a cauldron where innocent victims are tossed — simply for being different.

As I grew into the age of reason stage, I knew every human being was one of God’s children, and I truly thought others thought the same.

It didn’t take long before I saw how hateful and vile people can be. I just couldn’t understand it — I still can’t.

In an ironic twist, I fell victim to prejudice and lies as a young man about 30 years ago. I worked for a large insurance company. I became good friends with a coworker who shared a cubicle with me. He was black.

I would play ball with him and had him over my house to have dinner with me, Denise and the kids.

Not known to me, this man was spending his lunch time attending lectures by someone who was teaching that white people were evil and to debase them any way possible.

In short, I was falsely accused of making racist comments and actions toward my friend. I denied it, but personnel “had no choice but to believe him.”

In a small way, I discovered what African-Americans have encountered for so many years. It didn’t feel good. Those prejudices are still happening today to many more people, and it doesn’t feel good.

My hero once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I won’t be silent, but instead I stand up for every man, woman and child on this earth, no matter what differences and philosophies separate us. There is no difference to make one hurt another. 



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