Blast from the past…
“Considering that it is Martin Luther King day, I started to think about how apropos his famous “I have a dream” speech is, even today. So here it is, with some modifications.”
2000 years ago, a great teacher, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, taught great things. His teachings came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of desolate people who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But two thousand years later, we must fact the tragic fact that the human is not free. Two thousand years later, the life of the human is still sadly crippled by the manacles of legalism and the chains of religion. Two thousand years lager, the human lives on a lonely island of desperation in the midst of a vast ocean of spiritual legalism. Two thousand years ago, the human is still languishing in the corners of medieval society and finds himself an exile in his own mind. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In a sense we have come to humanity to cash a check. When the architect of our spirituality and bodies created us, they were creating a legacy to which every human being was to fall heir. This legacy was a promise that all humans would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that religion has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her plebes of open-mindedness are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, religion has given humanity a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds”. But we refused to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vault of spirituality in humanity. So we have come to cash this check -a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind humanity of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of legalism and religion to the sunlit path of spirituality. Now is the time to open the doors of life to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our species from the quicksand’s of religion to the solid rock of maturity.
It would be fatal for our species to overlook the urgency of this moment and to underestimate the determination of the wronged. This sweltering summer of the survivors legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Two thousand is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that those who shun religion needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if religion returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in our species until the humanity is granted its freedom to believe. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of enlightenment. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for meaning by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our righteous protest to degenerate into physical or emotional violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting abuse with justice. The marvelous new enlightenment which has engulfed humanity must not lead us to the distrust of all religious people, for many of our religious brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up inextricably with ours and their freedom is inextricably bound with our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking those who are opposed to religious abuse, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of legalism, cannot believe as we wish without abuse. We cannot be satisfied as long as the enlightened’s basic mobility is from one judgmental person to another. We can never be satisfied as long as Christian extremists think agnostics are evil and atheists should die. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from cults. Some of you have come from environments where your quest for the truth caused you to get hurt, some physically. You have been the victims of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to those Catholics that hate you, go back to those Christians that hate you, go back to the oppressive and hurtful areas of our bible belt, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the dream of humanity.
I have a dream that one day our species will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”
I have a dream that one day in the fundamentalist churches of Georgia the sons of agnostics and the sons of protestants will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have dream that one day even the Vatican City, a desert city, will be transformed into a city of enlightenment.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a world where they will not be judged by the name of their god but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Texas, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of intolerance and false Christianity, will be transformed into a situation where little Christian boys and Christian girls will be able to join hands with little wiccan boys and little wiccan girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of our god shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of intolerance and abuse, a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our beliefs into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray or not pray together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom and accountability together, knowing that we will be free one day.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every church, from every coven, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants, Catholics, Wiccans, Agnostics, and None of the Above, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at least! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”