“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
This is a sweet dream indeed. But, have you ever noticed that little kids have always naturally done this? How they love unabashed and uninhibited? Young children don't look at others and make quick baseline judgements or ask weird, qualifying questions of each other before taking another's hand and pulling them over to the swings to play at the park. They just do. God's original design displayed in innocent beauty.
We were created for brotherhood, sisterhood and for eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart connection. Kids enter the world with open arms and hearts at-the-ready, quick to embrace others. This precious way of children is beautiful and sacred. And, goodness, can grown-ups learn so much from them. We call ourselves mature, but I am beginning to wonder who is the more evolved group of the human fabric. To use a tennis term: Advantage youth.
I watched an episode of the television show "What Would You Do?" awhile back that depicted a little white girl shopping with her mom in a toy store. Her mother told her she could pick one toy to take home. The little girl picked up a black Barbie doll and began to admire it, announcing she had made her choice. Her mother immediately discouraged her, "Are you sure you want that doll? What about this one instead? (Showing her a Caucasian version of the same doll).
The witnessing bystanders expressed a mixed-bag of reactions. Most ignored the situation and walked away. Some though, fought for the dream. One woman in particular stood out. She gently told the mother that both dolls were equally beautiful and there was no harm in her child getting the one she chose, encouraging her to buy it. The host then came up and asked the bystander who got involved why she chose to do so and she said something like: "Because, it was the right thing to do. We should not look at skin color to be the reason for offering our affection or anything else for that matter". Isn't that beautiful? And, so true!
It seems like we have moved the needle one step forward and two steps back on Dr. King's dream for humanity. We still struggle and wrestle with division's knife, still broken on so many levels. White vs. Black. Man vs. Woman. Powerful vs. Weak. Right vs. Left. Ugh. God's original design fragmented to pieces so small we can hardly see them in the deluge we have made, let alone try and glue them back together.
Another wise precept of Dr. King: “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Of his many important sayings, this one strikes as especially potent right now. It's relevancy for such a time as this in our nation is acute, slicing deep as we wrestle with the hard questions of what we have become and where are we headed?
Fool's steep cliff is just ahead and we seem to be driving a fast-moving vehicle without working brakes. America must take Dr. King's exhortation to heart. We must mend the brokenness now or the shattering will be too great to repair.
As we celebrate this godly man whose life-passion was to join together, to dream big and ask each of us to as well, the question looms over in shadowy urgency: What kind of future are we offering our children now? Scorched earth is just not acceptable, but, that is the current march with torches lit; straight towards the wide open mouth of perishing's throat. They deserve so much better. In this, at least, can we all agree?
Jesus warned similarly: "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (Mark 3:24-25).
Some things never change. If we do not behold and realize the dream, we will live the nightmare. If we do not become more like the little children, embracing each other without superficial qualifiers, we will fall hard and be a nation on her knees without a prayer.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14) Heaven belongs to the child-like because of their capacity to love without prejudice, unconditionally. That is what makes Heaven so desirable. Don't we all pine to live in a place like that? While walking the planet, we must each do our part and I must believe it starts with acting a lot more like the littlest ones in our midst.
Dear Lord, help each of us to be kind like small children in our thoughts of others, in the words from our mouths, and in the deeds we do. Then, only then, will we hope to slumber in heavenly peace.
Dr. King, let us honor you and your sweetest of dreams, which, at its essence is the deepest calling of our souls; to love each other with hearts that do not see color but character, not opposing enemy but fellow brother and sister. To love as children, to live as family.
Question: Is there a person you know that you can extend an outreached hand to this week, getting back to childhood's innocence, loving them without condition?