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I Still have a dream

01/16/2020 10:44:47 AM

Jan16

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

If ever there was an American during my lifetime who filled the role of the ancient Israelite prophets, it was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He regularly quoted the Biblical prophets, and chastised us all of the inequalities in America, the promises unfulfilled, the suffering of his people. He was not merely a speaker, but a doer. Dr. King knew that his words would ring hollow if not supported by his deeds.  He laid bare the naked truths that were never spoken of publicly, and demanded that if America purported to adhere to the words of its sacred documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, then the words must apply to all equally. Alas, by speaking the truth, that threatened some, and he met a violent end to his life. While we are richer for his having lived and inspired us, we are poorer for his absence, for no one has arisen since his death on April 4, 1968 to continue in his role. We celebrate his birthday on January 20 as a nation; Dr. King would have been 90. What might Dr. King observe had he been alive for this birthday?

He would comment that there is still much work to do to realize the dreams of the founders of the United States. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are aspirations. They do not magically happen. All citizens must work together to make them happen. Equal education and employment opportunities do not exist for all citizens. There is an inequitable distribution of wealth. Access to comparable health care for all citizens has not been met. The list is long.

The challenges that he brought to light still exist, yet there are many good people throughout the land striving every day to make a difference. It would be wonderful that it would not be a dream that we don’t need these angels in society, because everyone’s basic needs are met. Until they are, in the absence of a powerful moral prophet who inherited Dr. King’s role, each of us must feel empowered to find that one thing that we must do to improve our society. As the Ethics of the Fathers states, while we do not have to finish the work, we are not absolved from trying.

There are so many wonderful quotes that are attributed to Dr. King. I found it inspirational to read through lists of them, and I encourage you to do the same as well. I have used this one, for it resonates with the meager efforts I am attempting: 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only       love can do that.

May the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. always be for a blessing.

Mon, February 24 2020 29 Shevat 5780