Living the dream
“I have a dream,” Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed in his famous 1963 speech.
He celebrated Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 to free slaves during the Civil War but warned, “100 years later, the Negro still is not free.”
We could say the same today. In fact, racism in America has erupted with frightening ferocity and irrational denial. Analyzing why can lead us toward a formula for living the dream.
MLK declared, “Many of our white brothers … have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
The Black Lives Matter movement acknowledges institutionalized racism. The pushback, All Lives Matter, is obviously true but offensive as a trivialization of how Black people have unfairly suffered in America.
When we read the speech carefully, it’s clear that MLK was speaking to everyone. His dream emphasized freedom and equality for Black people but included everyone. Speaking of white people, he said, “Their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”
Although progress has been made, do Black people experience freedom, equality and safety in America today? Do white people? What about Asians, the gender fluid, others? No, no, no and no.
But Black people, indeed, every one of us, should be able to honestly declare, “I am equal because it is an inherent truth of human existence, and I am allowed to live consistent with that truth without the fear of reprisal, exclusion, harm or death.”
How can this happen?
Three well known phrases, two attributed to Einstein and one to Lao Tsu, provide our game-changing clue. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” “If you don’t change direction, you’ll end up where you’re headed.”
Old thinking? We try to change our results by changing what we do. For instance, if we discover a leak in our roof, we place a pail to catch the drips. We also repair the roof, right? But why is the roof leaking? We might identify failed caulking, physical damage or improper installation, and call the contractor. But what’s behind that? Maybe expediency, incompetence, carelessness or haste. Behind that, how about addiction to profit over quality? Ah, now we’ve exposed institutionalized programming that will surely result in more leaky roofs, etc.
Why has the dream failed to become the reality in the 160 years since Lincoln’s proclamation? It’s not because of what’s been done or not done, it’s because of a sabotaging institutionalized program running in us all.
“Some people are considered inherently superior, in terms of their fundamental personhood, to others who are believed to be inferior.” The solution begins with the willingness to acknowledge the falsity of this fundamental illusion. And the secret for activating this solution is the dream itself.
We need to dream. But our dreams need to become our experienced personal reality, to inspire our thinking and motivate what we do, to head us in a different direction in order to achieve different results. In this case, it means being equal, not just advocating that ideal. Remarkably, regardless of beliefs and bravado, many people secretly feel inadequate — even when they profess superiority — and, they feel alone.
“I have a dream” is more than a line from the speech. It may be the first step toward Einstein’s new thinking that simply needs full actualization. 1. I have a dream (but don’t rush to do something). 2. I engage with my heart to feel the realized dream. 3. Experiencing the reality inside myself, I create a clear intention for my “doing.” 4. Now I act. And, I include everyone.
This provides a formula to activate Gandhi’s advice: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The dream must first become a personal, imaginal reality, guiding our actions. Otherwise, old thinking will maintain our background programs and keep reproducing our problems in different forms, no matter what we do.
Experiencing the reality personally before acting has been the missing component. It’s time to live the dream.
Will Wilkinson posts weekly blogs at www.noonclub.org. Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.