Dreaming a Dream

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the US, a federal holiday.  That means that the kids don’t have school so, because I don’t have to get them up and out the door, I get an extra hour of sleep while still heading off to work at the usual time.  But I worry about that.  I worry that, for most people, that is the extent of the meaning of this day off — a holiday in honor of some dead guy that did something at some point in history.  Is that enough, however, or do we, as parents, have a responsibility to our children to make it something more than that?

Anyone who thinks King’s dream has come true isn’t living in any part of the United States that I can think of, including, sadly, my beloved, liberal San Francisco.  And even if skin color were indeed no longer an issue, the fight for civil rights continues on other fronts.  Marriage equality is still a dream in most of the country.  Wealth is still a great divisor and affects our estimation of others.  So King’s message is one that still needs to be heard today.

As parents, I do think that we are responsible for making this day meaningful to our kids.  Consider it the cost of getting the day off, if you will.  We get to skip school and, in many cases, work as well but, in return, we need to talk to our kids about racism and equality and what it means to judge others “by the content of their character.”  Because if we do that, perhaps, at least in our children’s lifetimes, if not our own, King’s dream will come true:

“Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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