I Had a Dream by Edward Biberman
"I have a dream..." So begins one of the most powerful speeches of the man whose life we remember this coming weekend. Martin Luther King, Jr's dream included his children, but it did not end there. It was a dream for all the children of the world, no matter their color, race or creed. His dream was the vision that propelled him into words and actions that forced the beginnings of a change still underway in our country.
What do we dream for our children? And, more importantly, what do we dream for the children of our neighbors, our nation, our world? I'm a novice at politics and economics, but I'm not a novice at dreaming. In some ways, the prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples has a phrase that sounds much like a dream: "Your kingdom come, Your will be done," he encourages them to pray to a heavenly Father. "on EARTH, as it is in heaven."
How we imagine this kingdom says a lot about how we imagine God. And Jesus came to give our imaginations some help - healing sick, caring for the poor, speaking of forgiveness, demonstrating love. Those who mourned were comforted, those who were marginalized were given a rightful spot in the new reality.
What do I want? What do I dream? What do I pray? Because the kingdom is not yet here and I am called to be a part of its creation.
The news of the death of Osama bin Laden, long on the top of the "most wanted" list, had me pondering all day yesterday about the correct response. I found myself uncomfortable with those who were dancing in Time Square after the President's announcement on Sunday night, yet had to acknowledge that this is where a "war on terror" takes us. I couldn't help but remember the time we took our children to a trout farm in Costa Rica. We paid a dollar, the guys in charge put on some bait, and in went the lines. Kara, the middle daughter, squealed in delight upon catching a fish, then gasped in horror when one of the men took it from the hook, and slapped its head upon the pavement. What did she expect? Obviously, we hadn't told her the whole story.
The taking of life, even if enacted in the most just of cases, is still a sadness. The Hebrew God, whose "life for life" justice set a standard for centuries states: Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:23) And the Proverbs admonishes, "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice."
While justice can bring a sense of closure, or even relief, it does not necessarily make the world a better place. At best it takes us back to where we were before. It can stem the tide of negative energy, but cannot generate the positive power we need to move forward. That power comes from love, which is demonstrated so powerfully in the Easter story we celebrated this last week.
This little poem by Edwin Markham causes me think about the ways we make (or allow) others to become our enemies. It leaves me wondering if Love really is this ingenious, and if so, what it takes to draw a circle that insists on no divisions.
He drew a circle that shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. from his "Where do we go from here?" speech says eloquently what I tried to express in the comment "justice cannot generate the positive power we need to move forward." I'm thankful for my FB page, and the many helpful links.
“I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.”