Monday, January 16, 2006

I have a dream

If The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive today, could he, would he make a speech beginning with the words: "I have a dream." Or would he revisit his speech of four decades past and say, "I had a dream ... and it is unfulfilled." I still have trouble listening to the speech in its entirety because every year I start sobbing part way through and then have to turn away in shame and embarrassment because we have failed King so terribly, so completely. And each year it is only worse.

I wonder what King would make of Guantanamo, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, talk of crusades and waterboarding, unfettered presidential or executive power, the wretched masses left behind by FEMA in New Orleans, the uninsured and underemployed, the idea of school vouchers and no child left untested, the disenfranchisement of black voters in Ohio and Florida, the redistricting of Texas, the various scandals and inquests and investigations and the notion that high crimes and misdemeanors can be used for sexual misconduct but ignored for graft and corruption and abuse of power and people. (That's one hell of a run-on sentence but this is, after all, a blog.)

If I knew more young people I might be more optimistic. My grandchildren seem upbeat; by children less so. Is this pessimism a byproduct of age or has our age become so bad that one can't help but be pessimistic.

I'm not framing these thoughts as questions because I expect no answers. But, the pacifism of King and Gandhi and Nelson Mandela aside, I sure would like to see heads roll.

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