Saturday, August 27, 2011

On Dreaming

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

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

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little 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.

I have a dream today!

- Marin Luther King, Jr., August 1963

I'd suspect that what most people in this country remember about Dr. King is his dream. It is what awakens the soul in a time of struggle.

I have often thought that this is part of the problem for many on the left today...they seem dreamless. They spend too much time thinking that it's their job to critique and criticize what someone else is doing/not doing. There's not enough dreaming going on.

But dreams alone can be deadly as well, as Langston Hughes warned us.

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

How do we keep our dreams from drying up or exploding? We understand that, once the dream is in place, life is a game of inches. No one explained that better than Al Pacino's character in "On Any Sunday."

On this team, we fight for that inch...Because we know, when we add up all those inches, that's going to make the fucking difference between winning a loosing, between living and dying. I'll tell ya this, in any fight, its the guy who's willing to die whose going to win that inch. And I know that if I'm going to have any life anymore, its because I'm willing to fight and die for that inch. Because that's what living is - the six inches in front of your face.

A couple of years ago I adopted a totem for myself...the tortoise. After all these years, I recognized that when it comes to the race, I'm one that believes in slow and steady - an inch at a time. I don't know if that is a genetic inheritance or whether its a reaction to living with too many people who dreamed big but never produced. Either way, I tend to distrust people who spend all their time dreaming and promise a quick fix.

We know from his life that Dr. King not only had dreams, he knew the importance of inches when it comes to keeping the dream alive.

The dream of "change we can believe in" will be realized one inch at a time. Anyone who tells you anything different is only peddling a dream to be deferred.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. How do you eat an elephant?

    One bite at a time.