Today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in which he called for an end to racism in the United States. The speech was a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement and was delivered to over 250,000 supporters. King became the century’s most iconic American civil rights leader and pacifist.
I want to share a dream that I had.
I’m not being facetious, by the way, I have a recurring dream that I want to share because it’s an olive branch toward the contentious arguments that have infected not only our political system, but our entire way of life.
In my dream I start a new trend. Although this trend takes off immediately in my dream, I’m realistic enough to accept that it make take time to flourish in the real world, but I’m hoping that it can grow from grassroots to eventually become a national, even worldwide, phenomenon. My wish is for this trend to influence not only the way we communicate, but actually change the way we live.
Things can happen quickly in America. Who, outside of the world of dance clubs knew what “Twerking” was only a few days ago? And now its already part of my mother’s exercise regimen. Clearly, America has a great capacity for instantaneous participation.
Oh, yeah, what’s the new trend? Sit down. Prepare yourself…(drumroll)…I’m suggesting that we all start telling the truth.
That’s it. Telling the truth.
Not only telling the truth, but admitting when we’re wrong or when we have made a mistake; changing our minds when we’ve been presented with contrary but better evidence.
Sounds simple enough, right? The truth is, however, I rarely witness anyone change their mind or even admit that they may have been wrong about a position they’ve taken, particularly in politics. On many occasions I have identified the Internet smears that circulate from mass-emails to propagate hearsay or myths and I hit “Reply to All” with a link that will contain more reliable information. I then patiently wait for responses such as, “I didn’t realize I was spreading misinformation and that my source was biased and unreliable.”
I never get any.
Sarah Palin may be old news, but during the last campaign season I had repeated on Facebook an often quoted position that Palin believes dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time. No sooner had I posted this when I was persuaded by a friendly Facebook foe to look into the origins of that position. It turns out that those “quotes” were made up in order to perpetuate the perception of her as a religious extremist and a non-intellectual (the entire story stems from a a single alleged interview with a Wassila, Alaska resident named Philip Munger). I stood corrected.
I often get into debates regarding taxes, welfare, economics, stimulus spending and many other national issues, but my resolution is to dig even deeper, not only into my positions, but the positions of those I disagree with. My motive is not simply to substantiate my own beliefs, but to also look for validation of opponent’s beliefs. Too much information can be passed erroneously on the Internet and on politically biased websites that cull “facts” from hearsay, but if a person is sincerely dedicated to finding out the truth, and not just substantiating a pre-conceived idea, the informational resources are out there.
Will we ever hear, “I stand corrected” in a political debate? If we did, would we respect that candidate’s candor and honesty or would they be castigated for “waffling” or “flip flopping”?
Can politicians, candidates and constituents admit to drawing false conclusions when presented with evidence that contradicts their previous beliefs?
Can the body politic become willing and able to challenge, investigate and change long held beliefs?
Trust me, I’m not suffering from soul searching self-doubt toward my core socio-political philosophies and positions, but I am questioning the ability of all of us to open our minds to better or more complete information. I am challenging myself to go further and look deeper and I am challenging you to do the same.
Let’s use the legacy of Martin Luther King, whose words inspired integration, as a platform to integrate truth and genuine integrity into our public discourse. I don’t expect many hard fought opinions to change overnight, but from the ability to at least open our minds, the soil of knowledge will become more fertile for truth and reason to spring forth.
Who’s up for a little Twerking?