I Have a Dream Too...Don’t I?

Yesterday, on Martin Luther King, Jr Day, I stood at the same pulpit in the American Church in Paris where the spokesperson for Negro freedom gave his first speech after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 (He was on a stopover on the way home from Oslo).

To an audience of two obliging friends (!),I shared my dream.  Well, I tried.  Since I constantly think about strengthening families, I expected my dream to flow forth.  Confession:  I was no good scout and came unprepared!

This blooper inspired me to turn to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech wondering what I might learn from his passion for civil rights that I could transpose to my zeal for strong families.

There it was:  

“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.”

The Character Content

Back in the years when our household stocked multiple sizes of diapers, I was confident our kids would master hygiene autonomy by the time they reached adulthood. But would they spontaneously say “Please” and “Thank you”?

- I have a dream that my four children will have an attitude of gratitude.

With technology and consumerism proposing distractions on a 24/7 basis,

- I have a dream that when my children accept a responsibility they will complete it and with excellence.

In our age where sexual freedom is getting out of control (sex as of junior high, pornography enters a majority of homes—including families practicing a faith, +40% of children in France are born outside of a marriage commitment),

- I still have a dream that we will know the difference between good and evil and that we’ll embrace what is right and flee from what is wrong.

May parents find creative ways to clearly communicate their worthy moral standards to the kids and may the youngsters delight in hearing the affirming, “Good job!”

- I have a dream that home is a place where mom, dad, son, daughter, brother, and sister can fail...and are given a second, third, and again another chance.

In the face of repeated mishaps, may each family member accept that the only way to learn patience is by being tested again and again over time. May anger and frustration be channeled towards identifying the need for solutions and not lashed out in vain (it does not work, I tried it) attempts to enforce peace.

Despite the +50% of divorce rate,

- I have a dream that my husband and I will live until old age laughing together, working through our conflicts, and cuddling in bed and that our children and their children will do the same.

- And I’ll even dream that our family reunions will be fun!

Dreaming With Guts

Martin Luther King Jr. continued:
“This is the faith that I go back to the South with...With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

- I dream not to run away from my challenges but to welcome them as opportunities to grow.

- I dream today to have the guts and courage to suffer for this hope and that we’ll work and struggle for it together.

If It’s Got Value, It’s Got a Price

Martin Luther King Jr., your dream cost you

- your reputation (from “He’s upsetting the status quo” to “Peaceful is too slow”)
- your comforts (long hours, imprisonment...)
- your security (regular death threats and eventually his life)

If my dream is worthy, there will be a cost. I pray to be willing to sacrifice my reputation (“Mom, you’re so mean”) and my comforts (“We won’t buy that for you or for me. Not because we can’t afford it, but because we don’t need it.”) to make these dreams come true.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Thank you.

P.S. That's a figure of Martin Luther King Jr. carved into the pulpit of the American Church in Paris.

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