I was six when I saw my first non-white person. His name was Jinhai, he was born in America and worked with my dearest Dad in ironworking/construction based in Newark, New Jersey. Jinhai was Chinese and what amazed me most was the slant of his eyes and the enormity of his smile. Jinhai greeted me, lifted me high and hugged me - then placing me down said to my dad, “Harry I can see why you said he was an answer to your dreams.”
My dad told me in later years that we must all have dreams, not those found in sleep - rather those that when accomplished fulfill life - in reality, they set us free. I have dreams - one answered by my wife Chris, one answered by my children and grandchildren, one dream answered by many of you, many who I consider my friends. However, I also have dreams that remain unanswered. These unanswered dreams have haunted me for years - throughout my youth, my working life and my many years in ministry. I have dreams much like Martin and these dreams are many.
I have a dream that the world will one day embrace peace, putting aside the divisions caused by religion. Once these religious differences are removed perhaps then we will not kill children in the name of God.
I have a dream that the world will one day see in the embrace of war and civil conflict the needless death of brothers and sisters and will be stunned by the stench of their death - perhaps moving the world to peace at last.
I have a dream that the world one day will see in poverty, starvation and preventable disease the unnecessary death of 20,000 children each and every day, that the world will grow to understand the enormous value of each precious child, feeding them, clothing them, and healing them. I have a dream that the world one day will embrace the concept of family, responsible birth control, the value of education and the treasured value of work and effort. In that adaptation the world would eliminate disparity and perhaps embrace the dream of equality.
I have been told by many these dreams are simply beyond human embrace, that fulfilling each dream would require a letting go of self-centered value and fully accepting those who surround us. I have been told by some that it will be impossible for many to let go of the concept that they are “the chosen of God” believing that concept gives them the right and duty to purge all outside that creed.
I see little hope within my lifetime that my dreams will be answered - little hope this world will fall asleep in the arms of peace, little hope this world will grow to understand the sanctity of family and the gift of children - little hope we will see in each other – the great gift of faith, hope, and love.
When these dreams are fulfilled, much like Martin’s, then perhaps we will be able to embrace life and shout out, “Free at last, free at last - thank God almighty, we are free at last.” One and Martin stood side-by-side while looking down on humanity, they sighed and whispered, “amen.”