This past week we celebrated Martin Luther King Day, viewing it as an opportunity to honor a great man who inspired our country and the whole world. According to the website Britannica his most famous work is his “I Have a Dream” speech that he delivered in 1963.
In it, he spoke of his dream that the United States be void of segregation and racism. “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… that one right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” Part of his dream was that we all use nonviolent methods to protest things we believe are unfair or unjust. He used his words to help others join him in his dream.
While we still live in a nation where many judge others by the color of their skin, we have come a long way from the world that Martin Luther King experienced. The horrific impact of racism is now the subject of dozens of books, movies and documentaries. Dr. King’s dream helped promote the movement to address the injustices of racism.
What do you think it means to dream, not the kind of dreams you have when you are sleeping, but the visions you have, the ways you can imagine something to be different, how something can change, something that needs to be invented, something that can make the world a better place?
As I was writing this, the song Imagine by John Lennon played in my head. In it he was inviting people to imagine a world where all the people lived in peace.
Even Kermit the Frog sings about the importance of dreaming in the song, The Rainbow Connection. In it he sings, “Who said that every wish would be heard and answered when wished on the Morning Star? Somebody thought of that and someone believed it—look what it’s done so far. What is so amazing that keeps us stargazing and what do we think we might see? Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.”
Have you ever imagined the kinds of dreaming and envisioning our forefathers must have had when they began to create the design for our country, a country to be based on our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? They had to turn their dreams and visions of what this country could be that eventually became our beloved documents: the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States.
Dreams are connected with beliefs. Here is a personal experience I had that occurred in 1977 when I bumped into someone at a local grocery store who had been in one of my childbirth classes. In speaking with participants in the particularly dynamic childbirth class of which she was a member, I mentioned my dream about developing some kind of parenting education program.
Linda had been a great supporter of my dream, encouraging me to pursue what at the time seemed like a crazy undertaking. She invited me to notice the lyrics in a song that she had written called, “The Greatest Love” sung by Whitney Houston. She said she was thinking of me and our conversation about wanting to develop meaningful parenting education. The lyrics go: “I believe the children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.”
Of course, I was overwhelmed and deeply appreciative that she wanted to honor what we had talked about and what I had been dreaming of. I went on to develop a parenting education program that reached hundreds of people. It all started with a dream. The dream continues currently where I am a Director for Lakeside Global Institute as we are in the process of bringing parenting education into the Early Childhood world.
I recommend that you take the time to notice your dreams. Start with what you wish would happen in your life, what you wish for your children and other family members. Notice and even create details for how what you dream could become true for these. Expand those dreams to include your community, our country and even the world.
Dreams are important. That means that dreamers are important. They can inspire and give us directions for the future. We need dreamers and of course we need people who can turn dreams into actions. It is a kind of partnership that allows us to make progress, right wrongs, and promote the dreams of people like Martin Luther King. Embrace your ability to dream. Indulge yourself in all that a dream might involve. Do not be afraid to dream big. The dreamers of today are in good company with the dreamers who came before us.
Invitation for Reflection
- What are some of the dreams you had when you were a child? Did any of them come true? How did having those dreams motivate you to act? How did they impact your life today?
- Are there dreams you had then that you wish you had acted on? How might being able to do that have impacted your life?
- Suggestion: ask your children and other family members about their dreams. Use the questions included here and then make up some of your own.
- What dreams do you have for yourself today? For your children and family members? Your community? For the world?
- How can you inspire others to join you in these dreams? What will it take to make some of them become realities?