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“I have a dream”

2013 August 27
by Gordon Reid

Tomorrow at 3 p.m. I will press the button that will cause our computer to start our bells ringing out the seven-bell peal. This is in response to the request from President Obama that church bells should be rung to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream” speech.

This peal of the bells is usually rung for joyful occasions such as the emergence of a newly married bride from the church into the garden. And tomorrow the bells will be ringing in joy that much of Martin’s dream has come to pass. Much of   the hateful deliberate separation of black and white people has been ended. Much of the  second-class treatment of African-Americans has been stopped. The law prohibits any discrimination based on race or color. And Martin would be overjoyed to see such progress.

But bells have been used to proclaim danger as well as joy. They were to have been the signal in Britain that Hitler’s Nazi troops had invaded. And tomorrow’s bells should have some of that element in them too, because Martin’s dream has not yet been fully realized. We are still surrounded by Fascists who believe that one race is superior to another, that one class is superior to another.

Martin’s dream will not be fully realized until every child and adult has access to the  full medical services of this rich country; till every child has access to primary, secondary and tertiary education in accordance with his or her merits or race, with no question of any payment being required. Do we ask  our young soldiers to pay for the “privilege” of going abroad and killing the enemies of freedom? Of course not: we pay them handsomely. So why should we ask our young scholars, whose learning will defend us against bigotry and will promote health, respect for the law, scientific discoveries that will benefit us all, why should we ask them to pay for their training? We should pay them as handsomely as our soldiers, to kill and destroy the enemies of ignorance and intolerance.

So the bells will ring with joy that much has been done and is being done, but in warning that much more is needed before this nation is truly “a City set on a hill”, a light to the nations, before every single American can say with Martin “Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Jeff Ezell permalink
    August 28, 2013

    I very much agree with these sentiments overall. However, I would have to disagree that our ordinary soldiers, sailors, and airmen are handsomely remunerated for their service. This may be true for members of the officer corps at field grade and higher; for the enlisted and NCOs it certainly isn’t the case, and perhaps not even for junior officers — all those most likely to be on the front lines of combat in America’s foreign military adventures. Moreover, the United States no longer supply the same level of generous educational benefits to returning military as was the case under the original GI Bill, nor an adequate level of medical and rehabilitative care amd financial support for the war-wounded and their families. Actually, the treatment of American servicemen and women by the political leadership in this country is a disgrace.

  2. Cornelius A. Badger, Jr. permalink
    September 10, 2013

    Today, the 10th of September 2013, is a good moment to remember Alexander Crummell, priest, alumnus of Queens College, Cambridge, and most importantly, a guide and mentor to Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, the Harvard scholar known for “The Souls of Black Folks,” among other works. Dr. Dubois has described Fr. Crummell, (a fellow African-American) as a “seer,” and a gifted priest who overcame “the temptation of despair,” which of course, characterized the world of the 1890s.

    I remembered Alexander Crummell at mass today. In prayer and fellowship, we need all the help and intercessions we can muster.

    Peace.

    Neil

    Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Alexander Crummell, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. (Episcopal Church Calendar 1994)

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