Yesterday was the dedication for the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington DC. Thousands of people thronged the Mall to attend. The prayers, songs, speeches and the excitement of the crowd made watching the videos and newscasts from the event is a moving experience. Knowing that the Martin Luther King Memorial is the first in Washington DC to honor a man of hope, peace and color made it even more moving
It seemed so appropriate that President Obama, America’s first black president was there to speak, showing that change is possible and the injustices of the past can be overcome. Though as the president also reminded us, change came at a huge cost to King and to all involved in the civil rights movement. There wasn’t just physical violence to overcome with a message of reconciliation amongst those who disagreed with one another either. King was attacked for his activism, labeled a communist and accused of lacking patriotism. And unfortunately, as President Obama said in his speech, little has changed in many communities since King’s famous “I have a dream” speech in 1963. There is still widespread racism in this and in many other nations of the world. Unemployment is higher, incarceration in prison more likely and education more inaccessible to African Americans than to white Americans.
This morning as I write this I am also getting ready for Tom’s and my upcoming trip to Laurelville Mennonite Church Center. I am working on a section for our presentations on the subject of shalom – God’s desire to see all things made new. I cannot help but think of this as I watch what happened on the Mall yesterday. I felt that in the dedication of this memorial I had glimpsed another part of God’s world made new. We still need to see much done to overcome injustice, racism and abuse but there is hope and it that to which we hold.
As President Obama said in his speech: “I know we will overcome. I know there are better days ahead,” “Let us keep striving, let us keep struggling, let us keep climbing to that promised land of a nation and a world that is more fair and more just.”
Like Martin Luther King and President Obama, I too have a dream, a dream of a world made new in which all people live together in peace, harmony and mutual concern. What is your dream for the future?