Persistent Dreams: Reflections on MLK Day

By Dr. Susie Tanchel

Since we are not together at school this year to honor the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., I wanted to share with you an excerpt from a speech Dr. King gave at the Ebenezer Church in Atlanta in March 1968 entitled “Unfulfilled Dreams.”  Dr. King reflects on public historical figures – including King David with his dream to build a Temple – who died before their large-scale dreams were realized, and the importance of resiliency and perseverance, two of our JCDS Habits of Heart and Mind.

“And each of you this morning in some way is building some kind of temple. The struggle is always there. It gets discouraging sometimes. It gets very disenchanting sometimes. Some of us are trying to build a temple of peace. We speak out against war, we protest, but it seems that your head is going against a concrete wall. It seems to mean nothing…And so often as you set out to build the temple of peace you are left lonesome; you are left discouraged; you are left bewildered. Well, that is the story of life. And the thing that makes me happy is that I can hear a voice crying through the vista of time, saying: ‘It may not come today or it may not come tomorrow, but it is well that it is within thine heart. It’s well that you are trying.’ You may not see it. The dream may not be fulfilled, but it’s just good that you have a desire to bring it into reality. It’s well that it’s in thine heart. Thank God this morning that we do have hearts to put something meaningful in. Life is a continual story of shattered dreams.”

There are undoubtedly vicissitudes in life, dreams fulfilled and dreams delayed.  At school, we are committed to helping our children develop strong, clear hearts filled with dreams that are tempered with patience and fueled by persistence.   We are a community that unites in our shared value of working toward a more just world in which our civil discourse does not denigrate difference, but upholds the dignity of each person. Though there will surely be obstacles and setbacks in the fight for justice, may we – like all those who fought and continue to fight for the civil rights of all human beings – not be satisfied until we have reached a time in which the prophet Amos’s dream is fulfilled:

 “וְיִגַּל כַּמַּיִם, מִשְׁפָּט; וּצְדָקָה כְּנַחַל אֵיתָן”

“May justice well up like water, righteousness like an unfailing stream.” (Amos 5:24)

On this MLK day, may we rededicate ourselves to focusing on the ideals that are in our hearts. Our Va’ad has publicized a few ways to participate in community service activities that day and I know that there are many other options organized in our hometowns as well. I wish you and your children a meaningful MLK day.

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