Dear Journal: If I Were King

martin-luther-king-jr-nywtsDear Journal,

I have a dream too. It’s not all-encompassing, and it really serves no bigger purpose. But it’s a dream nonetheless. Everybody has a dream, I guess, and yet so many of us are still sleeping. Wake up, and experience the realization of the dream. Because the dream is nothing without the follow-up.

I need to wake up.

You know those lucid dreams, the ones where you believe you’re awake but you’re still fast asleep? We somehow convince ourselves that life has moved on, that we’re advancing when we’re in fact in some sort of stasis. I’m really good at that. I think maybe that gives me an excuse to get nowhere, running to stand still as it were. I wake long enough to realize the light is filtering in through the window, and I turn back over again.

But if I were King…

If I were King I would climb a mountain just to look over the edge and freak out at the distance to the ground. If I were King I would get dragged away because I couldn’t stop myself from caring. If I were King I would make those dreams real, standing up and making things happen. If I were King I would put on my marching shoes and lead a revolution. If I were King I would stay away from hotel balconies.

I would soar, and never come down.


The Real Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“So, kids, what special day is coming up?” the teacher asked her fourth grade class.

“Valentine’s Day” they responded in unison. Little Johnny actually jumped out of his seat and punched the air for emphasis.

“Yessss,” the teacher continued. “But what other special day do we celebrate soon?”

“Groundhog Day?” a little girl in the front row with old-school pigtails tentatively answered, then put her hand down slowly.

“Well, yes,” the teacher tried hard not to sigh. “That is soon, but there’s another that’s sooner.” She looked around the room, searching for one smart, brave soul to give her the response she needed to move on with her lesson.

Odds are, this scenario is repeated in classrooms all across this great country of ours during this time of year. Christmas and New Year’s Day pass in a blur, then we settle into a blissful haze until Valentine’s Day (and that’s only if we have a significant other/possible significant other to lavish heart-themed gifts on). If we’re in the school system we do know we get another day off in-between, but in our haze we don’t really focus on WHY we get the day off. And even if we do focus for a second on why we get the day off, it’s a teacher telling us what we already know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and why he’s so important to our country. Then we take the day off, we play video games, we eat fried chicken, we sleep in until noon, and we don’t take any further time to consider the great man whose birthday we are supposed to be honoring.

We know he was non-violent. Check. We know he was a preacher. Check. We know he was for civil rights. Check. And we know he organized resistance protests. Check. But just being able to say the words isn’t enough. If we are to truly honor the man, we must honor the legacy he left behind, a legacy that the further we get from him, the further we get from it. I propose a true celebration of Dr. King, not just empty lip service. There were serious problems in this country: the problem of segregation, of disproportionate benefits, and of serious violent aggression against those who sought to end these inadequacies. To pay homage to what Dr. King was instrumental in doing, I say we have an actual day where we follow in his footsteps.

The bus boycott was organized and carried out quite efficiently. Not like the haphazard gasoline boycotts that fizzled last year when people on Facebook and Twitter tried to implement them. The reason Dr. King was successful in his bus boycott was that everyone was out there riding those buses on a daily basis. It was real to them, something tangible. When we think about the price of gas now, we don’t think about the actual resource. We think about money. I propose a boycott of something we have also grown used to, something we think we need as much as those people in the ’60s needed their buses: technology. If the whole country went technologically “black” for the day, imagine the impact that would make on our children and on the rest of the world.

Then we could have a real Martin Luther King, Jr. Day kids would remember, so the next time that teacher asks her class the same question, all hands will go up in the air, and the answer won’t be “Valentine’s Day.”


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