Martin Luther King's Dream in Uniting World

Temple University Japan, in cooperation with the Embassy, sponsored a contest in honor of Black History Month. Students were invited to submit essays, visual creations, or short films on the theme of "Martin Luther King's Dream in a Divided World." Below is one of the winning entries.

By Lin Gao
Temple University

Martin Luther King Jr.'s famed "I have a dream" speech resonates because of it's most poignant line, expressing that the Reverend King dreamed of a world in which his children - and by analogy the children of all races - would be esteemed by character rather than race. Certainly that dream has not been achieved, nor has his corollary dream of a world united in ideology. But the world is one less divided now than it was when Reverend King did his work. Humankind has progressed both materially and philosophically, cultures poised at the brink of catastrophic hostilities during King's time are now allies, and the spread of information and commerce continue to lessen the racial, cultural, and economic divides that pervaded Reverend King's world. That is why I entitle this essay "Martin Luther King's Dream in Uniting World."

Much has been made in the past few years - particularly since 9/11 and America's invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq - of the cultural and racial divides that we have not breached. Suicide bombers still murder in the name of faith, but men like Saddam and Osama Bin Laden live - if they live at all - in caves and holes rather than palaces. Vietnam and China are still socialist countries, but they trade and do business with the US, and children too young to remember the Berlin Wall or the Soviet Union are old enough to be graduating from college. Blacks still have not achieved aggregate economic equality with whites in America, but an idealistic young black man is poised to win the presidency. And, even though some will certainly judge him by his skin, many, many more apprise him by the content of his character.

There are, in short, far more examples of unity in today's world than of division. This is proven in the fact that the voices of those who seek division have become so strident and desperate. There are no more sedate Vladymir Lenins, intellectually certain of the inevitable dialectic of world socialism. Now instead there are men like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, who mock democracy and free markets while ruling over nations gutted by malaise. Men of the Reverend King's intellectual and philosophical caliber - Senator Obama comes to mind--have left the rhetoric of division to demagogues like Al Sharpton and Malik Zulu Shabaz, and have themselves moved on to the simple, practical matter of changing the world through unity. These types of men, who, like Reverend King, concentrate on the similarities and noble traits shared by enlightened members of all races, seem to me more numerous than those who seek to deepen or profit by our differences. Likewise, the internet, by offering an egalitarian and color-blind forum for commentary and discussion, has shown that there are many more enlightened and critical thinkers than the demagogues would have us believe.

So I do not see the world as divided. I see it, rather, as more united than it was when Reverend King's dream resulted in his murder. And I seethe world continuing on that course. Dr. King focused his attention on the best attributes of all the world's children, and I believe that doing likewise is the most solemn and productive way to follow his example.