The fierce urgency of Now

About twelve years and two months before I was born, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. I decided to read it for the first time today. Sure, I’ve seen documentaries and heard about the man, however I just never got around to it. Being from the south, I noticed the residual undercurrent of racism at an early age. It just didn’t seem right to me though. Ignorance and intolerance exist in all shapes, sizes and colors. In America today, we are so focused on being politically correct. There are many things we cannot say and fear keeps us from even the thought of offending anyone. This doesn’t mean that we should have free reign to just spout off thoughtless words not caring what others think, but we shouldn’t be afraid to use our right to freedom of speech.

Our nation was founded on great men who used rhetoric to argue for the creation of a representative republic. Unfortunately, our country has taken a turn which leads away from their words and warnings. That said, the first amendment does allow the right to peaceful assembly. The marches and racial unrest during the Civil Rights Movement made people stop and reconsider their attitudes and ideals. It was a dark time in our history, however I believe Martin Luther King’s dream will be realized soon. There are still those out there harboring those old ideas and holding on to outdated ways. Stereotypes still exist on all sides.

America evens out the playing field today. Whether you come from a extravagant estate, an upper middle class suburb or a low income ghetto, anyone can rise or fall depending on their actions. It may be true that if you are a minority you have to work harder to succeed, but it can be done. Conversely, someone coming from wealth and privilege can just as easily be lowered to a state of poverty by making bad decisions. Nothing is impossible when you are given the freedom to exercise options. Choose to do  the next right thing and, unless you are cursed in some way, good will come of it.

On this day, we remember a man who encouraged non-violence and equality for all. Leading people to do and think differently is not an easy task. He lived and died by his convictions. I believe that everyone is capable of greatness. We get in our own way most of the time. Life happens around us and we forget what it is like to daydream like children. We forget ourselves and neglect to define who we are and live genuinely. Martin Luther King Jr. created and put energy into this world. So many people take from it and accept the status quo without thinking or doing anything. In his speech, he used the phrase, “a beautiful symphony of brotherhood”. Just think of what we could accomplish as a nation if we were focused more on what we have in common. There are so many voices out there trying to confuse and divide. What if we listened to our hearts and looked inside rather than adopting the opinions of others. Dreams do come true, but not if we keep them to ourselves.

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