21 January 2008

Martin Luther King Day

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., said in Washington, "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. "

We've come a long way in these 45 years, but we're not there yet. We Caucasian Americans need to examine the contents of our own characters, day after day, to discover and root out the myriad ways in which we continue to benefit from institutions, social conventions, and individual interactions that maintain our privilege.

180 degrees away, we Americans of economic comfort need to examine the ways in which our culture of consumption is destroying poor nations -- also nations filled with people of color -- through the interconnected phenomena of deforestation, chemical fertilization, aggressive mining, and so many other acts destructive of land and contributory to global warming.

Yes, I oversimplify. But there can be no fundamental change while we continue in our current consumptive ways.

With King, I dream: "When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!' "

I dream beyond the borders of these United States: I dream that Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, Serbia and Croatia, and the war-torn nations of Africa will find peace. And soon.