Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Christmas Dream

One of the favourite books I own is 'A Testament of Hope', an anthology of the speeches and writings of Martin Luther King Jr. When I need a moment of inspiration I'll often dwell for a few minutes on those great words. Probably the most famous speech King made was I Have A Dream, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC in August 1963. It slowly builds by describing 100 years of frustration since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and then turns to face the outstanding injustice of the day with visionary fervour:
"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."
And it's these words that are echoing in my heart as another year draws to a close. I'm wondering what kind of society we would live in if the same energy that has been directed at ensuring racial equality amongst our children were also to be directed at forming character in them.
As a parent I must confess that I do have some apprehension about the way my little boy will cope with the voices and the forces vying for influence over him. Will he come to see the sleaze and dysfunction as normality? Will he assimilate the inverted values of the world around him that heckles heroes and celebrates cynics? Or will we, his family, be successful in helping him grow the individual content of character that Martin Luther King foresaw as the essential building block of a just world. My Christmas prayer is that it will be the latter.

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