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A Dream...

What is a dream, exactly? Is it a vision of the future, a kind of precognitive view of something that is going to happen? Is it a fantasy of something wished for, despite the near impossibility of that event? Is it the brain's musing after you ate some food that gave you a sensitive stomach or something you drank after taking some medication that caused an interactive reaction?

A dream is nebulous, undefined, easy to ignore, or even forget, in the day-to-day demands of our working world. You have this vivid experience, filled with a sense that it is actually real while you're experiencing it, and then you wake up. Oh. It was only a dream.

I think that some people would be surprised to learn that the speech that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote to deliver from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 did not have any reference to "A Dream" in it. This was something that hit him in the moment. Call it divine inspiration, call it a pastor's thought, call it the brilliance of one of the best orators of the 20th Century. The "I Have A Dream" speech didn't have a dream in its final draft.

But, and I think this is easy to say with more than 50 years of hindsight after that brilliant speech, that that word, "dream," was the word that may have slowed the forward progress. That distant wish, that imagined scenario, dreams aren't meant to become "reality." Dreams get put away. We don't live our dreams. So thinking that a dream is "real" is a very easy concept to dismiss, especially if it's a dream you don't like or want.

This isn't to be critical of one of the most famous American speeches ever delivered! We have made a lot of strides because of that speech and because of the efforts of people that supported Dr. King's view. And of course we have advanced from Jim Crow to the Voting Rights Act to desegregation and affirmative action. We have a black president. Certainly the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assured.

But what if he had said, "I Have a Mission?" Granted we knew he had a mission, but suddenly, the concept that was offered as a "dream" is actually the end result of the work that everyone would participate in to make the country and the world a better place, a safer place, a friendlier and happier place.

It is so easy for people, especially the people that want desperately to maintain the Status Quo, to use whatever available options they have to continue to do so. A dream is a loophole, a way around, a dancing, distant non-reality that we may or more likely, may not reach. The longer the dream gets delayed, the less those that want it will pursue. And the Status Quo wins, yet again.

The comparison, both in timing and in delivery, is in John F. Kennedy's speech about space travel, which he gave at Rice University on September 12, 1962. The notable quote: "I believe this nation should commit itself, to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

President Kennedy stated it was a goal. It was clearly not a "dream." And it was specific, it had a timetable, it was simple and clear.

To be fair, Dr. King didn't have the power of the US Government to help with millions of dollars, or a sympathetic nation that wanted to achieve that task after he was killed. Still, the wording is an element that helped to make what President Kennedy wanted, real.

Our days of dreaming are over. It is time for a mission to value every life, that people are precious no matter their skin color. It is time for a goal to understand we are all the same, despite the outer differences and that we need to help and support each other. The task now is to communicate, to work, to strive to make the world a place where humans can live, worship, marry, live their lives in peace and harmony.

Dr. King would have wanted nothing less.

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