Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, the day we commemorate a great man who stood up for freedom and equality in our nation. He was a civil rights activist and Baptist preacher who is remembered often for his “I have a dream” speech delivered on August 28, 1963 during the March on Washington. At one point during this speech, King said:
“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!'”
We enjoy a lot of freedom in this country, and it is easy to think that we have achieved the dream King so passionately spoke of. But I know I must not become complacent and think that just because I am free the dream has been achieved for all. If I open my eyes I see that there are many for whom the dream is still but a hope for the future and not a reality of today.
There is a great song by Solomon Burke called “None of Us Are Free” that reminds me that as long as there are others in this country and in the world who are not free from prejudice and hatred, then I am not truly free.
And there are people still in darkness,
and they just can’t see the light.
If you don’t say it’s wrong then that says it right.
We got try to feel for each other, let our brother’s know that we care.
Got to get the message, send it out loud and clear.
If you just look around you,
you’re gonna see what I say.
Cause the world is getting smaller each passing day.
Now it’s time to start making changes,
and it’s time for us all to realize,
that the truth is shining real bright right before our eyes.
We are all united as members of the human race, and we must continue to strive for the freedom of all and not be content with our own individual freedom. Even where laws protect the civil liberties of people based on their race or religion, there is not true freedom if people harbor prejudice and hatred towards others in their hearts. Although all of God’s children are afforded freedom by law in the United States, there is still racial and religious prejudice that prevents Dr. King’s dream from becoming a reality. In the rest of the world, things are even worse.
Throughout the world people are persecuted for not only their race but for their faith as well. Just last night I received a message from a friend asking me to pray for a pastor and his congregation in Tunisia who are in danger because of the government collapse as they may lose the little freedom to worship that they have now. In China, house churches are raided and Christians thrown in jail. In Pakistan, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death. In many nations throughout the world Christianity is restricted or Christians are persecuted. In these countries, there is no freedom and the dream is but a hope for the future.
Are you free? Do you enjoy the freedom from being discriminated against because of your color or race? Do you enjoy the freedom to believe as you choose and to worship God as you desire? Do you think you are free? Has the dream been achieved and you can sit back and simply enjoy your freedom? Well, think again. As Solomon Burke, with back-up from the Blind Boys of Alabama, reminds us, “None of Us Are Free.”
But I share Martin Luther King Jr’s dream that one day we will all be free. If we each continue to desire and strive for freedom of our fellow man, then someday the dream will be more than just a hope for the future.