Dr. King: Dreamer or Delusional

In my musings by Antwuan Malone

i used to visit forums on the internet. like, often. nearly every one of them had a “soap box” thread where you could talk about anything. the titles ran the gamut, from “atheists or christians:  who’s crazier” to “what color socks are you wearing?”

one day, after sharing my very qualified review of the last movie i’d seen (not!), i posted a poll about dr. king’s dream. the question was simple:

“is dr. king’s dream feasible or fantasy?”

i was surprised (though some would say i shouldn’t have been) to see that 75% of the votes were for fantasy.  and as far as i know, that was from a pretty good demographic of ethnic groups. as i discussed it more in that thread,the reasons for their lack of belief in the feasibility of king’s dream became clear. and frankly, i was disappointed. i don’t even think the forum could agree on what king’s dream actually is.

so now i put the question to you. tell me what king’s dream is to you.  don’t worry about the length, because i really want to hear what you have to say. you may even want to google his speech to get a refresh yourself (because I haven’t figured out how to attach it.)

some of you may feel people his dream is already a reality.  or, like most in that forum, some of you may say that that a society without racial discrimination, is about as feasible as a crime-free society. to you, king’s dream is an unrealistic, unachievable goal, noble as it is.

as for me, I guess I’m just foolish enough to believe in possibilities.  “dream world” ideas like world peace, minimized crime, and squandered prejudices are things i have to believe can happen.  i have to.  it’s sort of a running joke now, but jesse jackson said, “keep HOPE alive!”  what is life without hope. what is ambition with optimism. it is this hope that won’t let me think these are impossible.  king speaks of it in his speech, and refers to it as “faith”.

for me, the question is not whether it “can” happen, but HOW we WILL make it happen.  the problem as i see it is the chasm that separates what can happen and what will happen.  it’s like our current situation is on one side of the grand canyon, and the possibilities are on the other.  it’s not that the other side is impossible to get to.  it is that we must decide to willingly, intentionally get there.  if we don’t “will” it, it will always be a possibility, never a reality.

these are “in or out” deals.  you’re either helping or hurting. not room for in-between lukewarmity (made up words are awesome.)  you’re either actively on board with helping fulfill the dream or your are constantly resuscitating a hateful spirit with dormancy. unfortunately, there is there is more dormancy than activity these days.  those onboard realize that making the possible a reality is worth working for, worth fighting for, even worth dying for. those who don’t are apathetic, indifferent cynics, riding the pine in life instead of getting in the game.

dr. king knew his dream was was too far out to become a reality in his lifetime. that’s why he called it a dream in the first place.  but at the same time he didn’t rally and stir the hearts of people of all distinctions to run to a place that can never exist, or to climb a mountain with no peak.  it is a similar faith the Bible describes in hebrews 11:6, “for he that comes to God must first believe the he is [a reality].”  a goal should be considered achievable, and a destination must exist in order to reach it.  if not, then blood, sweat, and tears were shed for naught. and I don’t think the legacy of such a great man should be marred by the idea that the source and drive of his great achievements were all a figment of optimistic imagination.  i don’t believe the actions following such timeless declarations as those made in this speech, actions that lead to his murder, are things he meant for us to give up on in the name of unfeasibility.

king believed his dream could be a reality!

read the speech. really read it. not just the part about promissory notes and “insufficient funds.” not just the “let freedom ring” bit, and please don’t limit yourself to the rousing “free at last” portion. instead, inhale the entire speech. see that it is beautifully decorated with action items designed to make the dream a reality. it’s about the survival of a great country where all can live and thrive, he  is telling us what the dream is, and encouraging that it is possible, even vital – as vital as the air we breathe. the message simply is, “to be together, we have to be together.”  king’s dream is the realization that we are all intricate pieces of the master plan that allows a nation to reach its full potential, a plan that requires a hand in hand approach.

king is similar to Jesus in a couple ways. first, they are both “in or out” guys.second, they love you the same whether you are in or out.  and third, they believed “all things are possible.”  because of this, we are forced to either declare them fanatical crazy persons who live in a fantasy world and should be totally ignored, or see them as revolutionaries God has used to guide us to places we never thought possible, and so should be thoroughly paid attention to.

besides, isn’t it silly to honor a legacy that is based on fantasy?  wouldn’t the greatest way to honor king be the effort that is the continual tossing of logs on the fire the speech ignited instead of dousing the fire with water, or worse, simply letting the fire burn out.

fear and cowardly, convenient logic has chased away feasibility, and for many king has become a daydreamer with strong optimism, but no feel for reality.  honor a fantasy?  or, chase a reality?  which side are you on?

calling king’s life work, the vision he died for, a fantasy is an attempt to draw a line through his sacrifices and void his legacy by making him the ultimate cliché.  to call him an unrealistic romancer of flights of fantasy, wow, where is the honor in that?

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.