Dr. King’s dream of a world of children being judged by the content of their character rather the color of their skin is one that still rings true 50 years after he said it at the March on Washington. It should be repeated again and again until the dream is fulfilled. The concern is that for some of us it is a dream that we have forgotten, resisted or given up on altogether.
Whatever the reasons, we should remind ourselves that we can still make this dream come true. I believe practicing virtues are a way for us to fulfill the dream. A virtue is a behavior that is positive, moral and ethical and is a way of being that leads us as individuals to a better place. The Virtues Project is a great place to learn more about virtues and get specific definitions. What are the virtues needed for us to fulfill Dr. King’s dream? There are four foundational virtues that come to mind for me: Love, persistence, freedom from prejudice and forgiveness.
Love is what we need to show and practice to everyone, no matter their skin color, every single day. The Virtues Project defines love as treating people with care and kindness because they mean so much to us. We should love all children, ourselves and everyone who comes across our path.
Persistence is that virtue of never giving up on something despite difficult odds. It is such an important self-discipline that underscores the foundation of fulfilling Dr. King’s dream. The Habits of Mind is a resource that offers much about this virtue. In practicing these virtues to fulfil Dr. King’s dream we should identify the ones we need to work on the most and persist in making them a part of our routine.
Forgiveness is a virtue that implies that we must give up grudges that we have held towards others. Learning to give others and oneself another chance after having done something wrong is immense. This virtue is one of the hardest to do because forgiving oneself is tough. Go the Virtues Project for more.
Freedom from Prejudice is simply taking the time to reflect on the personal prejudice one may have towards judging people by the color of their skin. Taking action to self-correct that prejudice is the next requirement.
Let’s give the dream and fulfilment some perspective. It took 371 years for slavery to end, 188 years for everyone in the United States to get to exercise their right to vote, 202 years for everyone to finally be able to lawfully worship their religion without penalization. Dr. King expressed his dream in 1964. It has been a short 50 years with many accomplishments much but I believe we are in the next phase of fulfilment.
As we reflect on Dr. King’s dream, on his day of commemoration today, let’s remember the words of the great Nelson Mandela: “It is impossible until it is done”. Let’s make it so together. No matter who you are: student, retiree, office worker, ceo, average person, etc.; we all have a part to play!