Where Is the Dream Today?

This is my first post for the Your Turn Challenge. Every day for the next seven days, I will post here.

Progress toward my goals:

  • Marathon: On Track. I started week two of the Couch to 5K program this morning. I’ve managed to suck my son in; he ran with me this morning, and says he wants to run the marathon with me.
  • Two Square Yards of Earth: Behind Schedule. I made a little progress with the outline yesterday. Still a chance I can finish it by the end of the month, which will get me back on track.
  • 100 Posts: Behind Schedule. This is my third post for the year. I should have done eight by the end of this week. Completing this challenge will get me back on track.

I can hardly write a blog about courage and not write about Dr. King on the day we honor his memory. A man of courage by any measure, he made it his life’s goal to change his world for the better–without resorting to violence.

Dr. King had a dream: that his children might live in a nation where they would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. When we speak of him, we speak of the efforts he made to realize that dream, of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, of the marches he organized in Selma and Birmingham and Washington, of the speech every fifth grader has heard, at least in part.

By the measures of external progress, we’ve come a long way, and we have a long way to go yet. Our country no longer bears the noxious burden of legal segregation–but many American cities remain segregated because of differences in the economic opportunities available to this generation, and the last one, and the two before that. Businesses, hospitals, churches, social services no longer discriminate on the basis of race–but there’s a myriad of ways to discriminate, not all of them the product of conscious choice. On balance, I have to believe Dr. King would be proud of the external progress we’ve made, even while he acknowledged that the hardest part of the job might be in front of us.

But there’s a deeper side to Dr. King’s dream: If we are to be judged by the content of our character, we must make character a central focus of our lives. That means we must own our successes and take responsibility for our failures. It means we must honor our word when we can, and not blame others for our own failures when we can’t. It means we must have the courage to look deeper than another’s skin color, or religion, or country of origin, or sexual preference, or oddness of dress or adornment or tattoos, and see the human being underneath, who really isn’t all that different from ourselves.

It means we must give over our efforts to change everyone else and shift our focus to changing ourselves. That’s where we’re falling short of Dr. King’s dream.

That’s where I pledge to make myself better. I already endeavor, sometimes more successfully than others, to judge others by the content of their character; as I move forward with my own dreams, I will make my own character my foremost concern.

After all, it’s only by making ourselves better that we can really make our world better.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.