Friday, April 4, 2008

You've got to be carefully taught

Today is the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. They're doing a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" on Broadway. What's the connection?

This week's poetry, or rather, song:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

In some ways we seem to have come a long way. One of the actresses in the current production of South Pacific said that when she talks about "colored people", the audience visibly gasps. She says she feels dirty, like she needs to take a shower.

And yet we can't bring ourselves to evaluate the presidential candidates just as people- not black or white, man or woman; but for the courage of their convictions and the fierceness of their intelligence.

Still, I hope that one day soon, Dr. King's dream will, indeed, become reality.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.

1 comment:

Debra said...

Over the weekend I had a really hard time not crying while watching MLK clips over the weekend. He was such an extraordinary American-- and braver than most can imagine. Non-violence is a great deal harder than any can imagine.

What was it that Gandhi said? First they ignore you, then they laugh at you-- then they fight...