Fifty-Five Years Later

He had a dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Here we are, fifty-five years later. While there have been advancements in civil rights since Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech in 1963, our country remains embroiled in the bigotry of non-acceptance. Not by all of its people and I sincerely pray not by the majority, but enough that it fractures the relationships and soul of the United States of America.

In the last year, it’s felt more like the Divided States and a study of how a country can take one step forward and two steps back.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Love. As in love one another. Dr. King was sure that love could turn his enemies and bring light to the world, but it was ultimately an enemy that ended his life far too early. I wonder what impact he would have made had he lived well into his 80’s. Martin Luther King Jr. was charismatic and an engaging voice against inequality. His dream was one of love, envisioning a country where everyone, including his children, is judged by the content of their character, not by the color their skin. He had a dream that the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; that there would be liberty, justice and freedom in a place he called home.

Fifty-five years later we still have this enemy filled with hatred and contempt, trying to wind its way into the fabric of society and suffocate it.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

I’m normally quiet about matters that upset me, in the sense that I don’t stand on a street corner with a sign. I’m not vocal, not a raucous advocate for justice. While not silent, I prefer to speak love for people quietly, by volunteering and being kind to everyone I meet.

But I’m going to use my voice today because Martin Luther King Jr. deserves this from all of us. We are responsible for seeing his dream through and driving out the lurking child of darkness.

Nine years ago, our first African-American President was five days away from taking office. It was an important part of history, one that made a close friend tear up because the majority of people in this country saw hope and a better country in a black Barack Obama. Unfortunately, hope turned into an ugly war of political parties and the beginning of a political divide. I believe there were those committed to discrediting this President because of his love of people and the color of his skin. He reached his hand across the political aisle early on, only to have it slapped away by those who favored division over unity.

Fifty-five years later, we have bigotry, hatred and narcissism in the White House.

Do not shake your head “no,” do not bury your head in the sand, do not call this fake news. I am so sick of the abhorrent behavior, this sense of “we can do anything because we’re in power” bullshit. I am especially incensed when people call themselves “Christian,” but fail to speak out against the vitriol and prejudice, the clear acts against people of differing ethnicity, of differing culture and religion, and those who are in most need of help.

Does anyone understand the commandment of “Love Your Neighbor?” There are no exceptions to this commandment of Christians. It does not read, “Love your Neighbor except the black man two doors down.” It does not read, “Love Your Neighbor, except the homeless family at the shelter.” It does not read, “Love Your Neighbor, except the gay couple that we don’t allow in our church.” It does not read, “Love Your Neighbor, except when I don’t want to.” We don’t get to choose or judge or offer excuses. We are commanded to love others unconditionally.

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

Fifty-five years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and the promissory note that was given to everyone as heir: That all men (all people) would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He spoke that America had defaulted on this promissory note when it came to people of color. They had been given a bad check.

It may be safe to say that Dr. King’s country has bounced a few checks when it comes to its people and how some have been mistreated and disrespected. However, back in 1963, Dr. King refused to believe that his bank of justice was empty. He urged his fellow man to not satisfy their thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. Dr. King wanted to see his dream through with dignity, discipline, and without physical violence. I believe he also would have preferred to see this reality without angry, name-calling tweets.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

I realize that there’s not much we can do with people who embrace bigotry and hate for whatever reason their mind accepts, but there’s much we can do as individuals to tip the scales in favor of love for our neighbors.

  • Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Don’t be afraid, most people will thank you for your service.
  • Talk to everyone. It’s really that simple. While we take care to not put ourselves in danger in certain situations, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to people of different ethnicity, different religion, different sexual orientation, or from a different culture. It’s enlightening and leads to understanding and acceptance.
  • Don’t be silent. If you are in a conversation with someone who speaks against the diversity of humanity in any way, don’t be afraid to speak your own truth of love.
  • Get involved in your community and be an advocate for change. Run for local office if it’s within you.
  • If you’re one of those uber vocal people when seeking justice, stand on the street corner with a sign or any legal activity that espouses love and peace for your fellow man, woman and child.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Fifty-five years later and I believe we all have a dream for this country that doesn’t involve bigotry arising from the power of political parties. Our dream has always been the freedom of democracy, not the hatred of a select group of people. Our dream has been inalienable rights, not exemption or exception. Our dream has been one of love and peace, that all people are created equal in the United States of America.

All people.

Dr. King continues his dream from heaven and we must continue his dream on this earth.

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35 responses to Fifty-Five Years Later

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Dr. King would be disappointed at the current state of bigotry and hatred in this country. I’m sure his children are.

  1. M-R says:

    Bravo the Biker Chick ! You speak for me, even though I live here. You speak for me because what’s happening up there has turned your country – that was, under the previous President, worth watching – into being watchable only to see what is the latest atrocity the ‘Christian’ GOP (Ryan is a Catholic !) is fomenting in the name of “Government”. The Republicans are people without conscience or shame. And yes, it started under Obama, when Boehner began his campaign of “I don’t want you there so I’ll do what I want”. Partisanship ? – don’t make me laugh: the word doesn’t even begin to describe what politics are under Trumpelthinskin.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Trumplethinskin…this is why he lashes out at everyone. People with fragile self-esteem build up their ego by tearing everyone else down…not worried about the cost to people. I don’t consider the Republican party as Christian and I don’t believe Jesus would either.

  2. Powerful piece, M-J. It seems so surreal that we have come from the election of the first African-American president to this in less than 10 years. And I say ‘we’ because those of us across the Pacific feel for your country. (Sometimes for my own sanity I have to remind myself that it won’t be my taxes, my health, my kids’ education that will be affected.) I really hope that this period is an aberration and that a righting is on its way.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Surreal and aberration are two good words to use for this political time in the U.S. Many are hoping that the mid-term elections will turn the tide, that Democrats will win back seats so that this government is not so lopsided and cruel. It remains to be seen, but I can’t believe that the majority of people in this country still support Trump.

      • All the polls would seem to indicate they don’t but with non-compulsory voting I guess anything can happen on the day really. Plus, no offence, but your electoral system is messed up. IMHO

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I agree with the electoral system, so no offense taken. This country is messed up in many ways and the current administration is not helping. There is no “making America great again” until Trump is out of office or we take away his power in the House and Senate.

  3. Well written. I won’t pontificate about the state of our government officials, and many may not be strong enough to follow your suggestions. But, even as a society if we remembered what we learned in kindergarten: “Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life – Learn some and think some And draw and paint and sing and dance And play and work everyday some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, Watch out for traffic, Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.” We could be so much better if we only tried. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      This is wonderful advice, Judy. “Play fair” is the best of it. If people and politicians would play fair, we could resolve many issues. As for draw and paint and sing and dance, I might do all of that today! 😀

  4. Ginny Fleming says:

    Yes!
    Thank you, Mary for the timely reminder of what good Americans fought for – an America not solely for the privileged few, ruled by love, not hate. Thank you for reminding us, because of Dr. King and others like him, just how far our nation had come and giving us hope it’s possible to have it once again. When my first thought even before I open my eyes on the day is: “My lord, who has he insulted/lied about/felt-up/mooned & spat at today?” it pretty much cancels out anyone commanding me to “Have A Nice Day!” Inevitably, by the dawn’s early light… the day is toast.

    Thank you, Mary, for the reminder of Dr. King and the good people who *still* fight for his dream.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      You’re welcome, Ginny, and thank you for your heartfelt comments. I’m sorry that your a.m. thoughts are directed toward someone who values self and his power over others and our land. I’m hoping and praying that the majority of Americans will speak up and vote in love in the mid-term and next Presidential election. We need politicians that truly care about their constituents and this country, not about how they can get reelected or pay back their special interest group or line their own pockets. We need politicians from all parties who will work together and come to the middle rather than fighting each other at every turn. We need to make many changes in our political system, but I believe the people of this country can help in how they treat and love others and how they set an example for generations to come.

  5. Dan Antion says:

    This is a wonderful post, Mary, and you captured so many truths that it’s hard to count. Love your neighbor really does mean everyone. And, being Christian isn’t a claim that can only be made by one church, or one religion. And, if we are going to say we are Christians, we should act like Christians as defined by the One who’s name is involved in the term. I was scared, 55 years ago. I’m scared again, but not as an individual. I’m scared for this country.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Dan, I’ve been scared since the night of the election. Really, truly. I recently read of an African American pastor who left the Republican party. He said they had changed and were not the people, nor the Christians, he had once subscribed to. I often think if my dad were living and saw what was going on, he’d be so disgusted. I hope the majority of Americans also feel this way and are ready to make a change both for this country and its people.

      • Dan Antion says:

        It has to change, Mary. We have to accept that all people have value and rights and deserve the same chance. We are a nation of immigrants and we should respect and embrace that part of our history. This isn’t that hard if you take hate out of the equation.

  6. Joanne Sisco says:

    Well said, Mary. The fact that a post like this even needs to be written makes me sad. Hope that sanity will prevail is all I’m clinging to at this point.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I know. This post could have honored Dr. King by relating how his voice effected positive change by minimizing bigotry in this country. But no, not with this President and the current state of racism. That makes me sad too.

  7. CSNelson says:

    This is such a well written piece that surely expresses the views of many, I just wish I could meet more of those “many.” I appreciate you and thank you for sharing! ❤️LOVE THY NEIGHBOR❤️

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thank you! There are more of us, I can guarantee it. And if we continue to love our neighbors, there’s a chance they will spread the love too.

  8. JoAnna says:

    Great wisdom and heart here, Mary. I’m with you. Clearly there are more. I love knowing Dr. King is still working on his dream and we are working from here on earth.

  9. Aunt Beulah says:

    Thank you for so openly and honestly expressing what so many of us who believe in fighting the ugliness of today with love, kindness and service feel. Your words should be required reading across the land because you spoke to the hearts of many.

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