Back in the 1980s, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, there was no day honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a Civil Rights leader, an icon, but there was no national celebration until then. I was in high school, and Stevie Wonder came to our school, played the piano and sang. The next thing we all knew was that MLK(and how many people out there are so very important that they can be identified by just their initials?) had his day. Federal holidays aren't just handed out all willy-nilly; so this was a big deal. Since I was a teenager, my excitement was more about having a day off from school, but I'm older now. I wasn't alive back in 1963, but I wish I had been there.
I don't know what MLK would think about what's happening right now, what he would say. He wasn't perfect, but he wasn't walking blind. He must have had a very specific road that he was following toward equal rights when he was murdered. We know that he had an amazing dream, one that started to change the world. He spoke about transforming the "jangling discords" of America into a beautiful symphony; our nation seems even more stridently disharmonious today.
Most of us, when we have a dream and we talk about it, use the past tense. We're awake, so the dream is over. It's done. But Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't say that he had a dream. He didn't use the past tense. For him the dream wasn't over. Instead, he said, quite clearly: "I have a dream." Present tense. Here it is, more than a half century later, and we are still in the midst of Dr. King's "fierce urgency of now". The mindfulness currently being preached about on the internet wasn't a thing back in 1963, but MLK was already there. Dr. King told us, "I have a dream", and by sharing his moment of mindfulness with the world, he gave us something very special. Our country changed for the better as a result of that dream. It's difficult to remember that sometimes, with all the idiocy, ignorance, and hatred swirling around.
The dream is still happening.