Opinion / Politics

Gettysburg, King’s Dream, and Hope

King's

As a small boy, my father had me memorize the Gettysburg Address.

I am not sure why, as dozens of other documents had import – but this one he wanted me to know. I stumble now, did not then. Now, too, I wonder why it mattered so.

I recently reread it, and then Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered 100 years after Lincoln’s address. Both moved me, especially as both men would – it seems – would be unhappy with today.

Both men believed in the American Dream. Both would disavow divisions, abandonment of individual liberty and opportunity in favor of outcome leveling, and Marxism, coercion of what must come from the heart.

Both men put hope in what King called “the promises of democracy.” Lincoln and King would have no time for Critical Race Theory, redividing the country by skin color. Neither would they take the low road of racism over principled unity.

King’s words are profound, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” “Mountaintop,” and “I Have a Dream.” The last is the real answer to Critical Race Theory, violent riots, cross-allegations of racism, condemnation of the American Dream.

King was thinking of Lincoln when he spoke in DC that hot August day, 1963.

Lincoln had begun, “Four score and seven years ago …,” recalling the Declaration of Independence, 1776. King began, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.”

The tone, tempo, and theme turned on hope. King called Lincoln’s Declaration “a great beacon of hope to millions…,” not an abandonment of ideals, but fulfillment of them. Like Lincoln, King would not disavow our Constitution, Declaration, or intent of the Founders.

King’s faith was grounded in that Constitution, Declaration, and in God.

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” he said. “This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Could he be clearer? The point was not to denigrate opportunity, liberty, or America’s promise, but to make it real. He spoke of “great vaults of opportunity,” “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.” What did Lincoln speak about, if not “the great urgency of now,” in time that – for both men – was short?

Violence, bitterness, and hatred? What would King say? Like Lincoln, King knew violence begets violence. “There is something that I must say … In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds … not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

He went on: “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline … must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.” Distrust whites? No. Work “must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers …have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny … their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” Is that not, in a nutshell, America?

Resentment and despair? No. “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.” Why? Because, like Lincoln, King had a dream. And their dream is ours – one America.

Said King: “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 … live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Is that not our belief, too, as Americans? Is that not what unifies us?

You see, Lincoln and King knew something modern disputants do not. They knew we are unique, we Americans. Their point was unity. King made it personal. “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.”

King did not want material leveling, groupthink, anger. He wanted something lasting – equality, respect based on “content of their character.” What is more American?

The rest of King’s speech centered on hope and faith. “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Like Lincoln, he hoped our “better angels” might bring harmony. “With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” So, all said, King believed in America, not an alternative.

You wonder if I have missed something. King’s answer. “This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

Lincoln – in some evanescent way – must have hoped on a figure like King speaking of hope, unity, not division. King, in his time, must have hoped for future leaders of good hearts, real faith, caring to transcend division.

“When this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last.”

Rereading the Gettysburg Address and King, I am taken with how the two align and should with us. Yes, with us. Their words show destiny on their shoulder and a conscious handing forward of expectations – across generations – to us. From both men flows hope, vested in us.

Maybe that is why my father pointed me to the Gettysburg Address, not another word. It is about hope, believing the best lives within each of us, and finding it.

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Bill on the Hill
2 months ago

A good read RBC & sure to draw plenty of theories on how we got to this point in time, right here in America…I should think that both Lincoln & King are rolling over in their graves with respect to the current anti-religious, anti-God atmosphere being rammed down every American citizens throat as I write this. We are currently living in a time & under the whip of a Federal government that has moved completely away of representing the people to that of an over reaching tyrant, ruling over all of us, i.e. We The People…It is also written in the US Constitution what We The People can & will do
with respect to a tyrannical gov’t that has FAILED to represent, including protect the people that it works for…
The Day of Reckoning is getting closer with each passing day…
Bill on the Hill… :~)

America in Decline
2 months ago

God used slavery to humble the arrogance of many people and nations throughout history, including His chosen people the Jews. What Lincoln did changed our form of government from a constitutional republic which protected state sovereignty to formulate its own moral codes to an autocratic system that empowered the federal morality police to peer into our bedrooms and to rule instead of serve. He destroyed the checks & balances (separation of powers) thus made the states serfdoms/properties of a federal plantation. England eliminated slavery without a civil war by phasing it out the right way, through the legislative/legal process, but Lincoln violated the constitutional protection of the institution of slavery by violence instead of amending the constitution. Thus he divided the country and only succeeded in converting physical slavery into political repression of blacks which continues to this day through the instrumentality of the KKK Democrats which have now morphed into a communist organization trying to finish the job of destroying what’s left of the greatest nation in all of human history.  

Nick
2 months ago

If Lincoln was able to thwart God’s will, then Lincoln was more powerful than God and you should worship him on Sundays.

Esther
2 months ago
Reply to  Nick

“LOL” as my great grandchildren say

but yes God has disappointed us greatly with losing Trump and critical Race Thery and all the abortions so I do not Pray any more I just yell at the Tele vision!

Bea
2 months ago

Well said!! BROVO

Nick
2 months ago

I read Marx as I read all of the influential historical thinkers – from a dialectical point of view, combining a partial ‘yes’ and a partial ‘no.’ In so far as Marx posited a metaphysical materialism, an ethical relativism, and a strangulating totalitarianism, I responded with an unambiguous ‘no’; but in so far as he pointed to weaknesses of traditional capitalism, contributed to the growth of a definite self-consciousness in the masses, and challenged the social conscience of the Christian churches, I responded with a definite ‘yes.’

JOHN
2 months ago

“REMEMBER”
During The Dark Days of our Civil War…
Our Nation in Peril rallied around the words of …
“The Battle Hymn of The Republic”
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
He is trapling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He have loosed the fateful lightening of his terrible swift sword!
His truth is marching on

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps
I have read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps
His truth is marching on!

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish’d rows of steel (barrels and bayonets)
As ye deal with my condemners so with you my grace shall deal
Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel
His truth is marching on!

He has sounded from the trumpet that shall never call retreat!
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His Judgment-seat
Oh, be swift, my soul to answer, oh be jubilant, my feet!
His truth is marching on!!!

God please save Your America… for We The People, Pray!

Bea
2 months ago
Reply to  JOHN

Thank you, John!!
We still have Hope…the Battle has been won…His Truth is still marching on
????????✝️✡️????????

Carol
2 months ago

Great article! America was heading in the direction both Lincoln and King talked about. Our “better angles” were moving forward but change takes time and there are just too many leftists who want power and control NOW! That’s all that CRT and other Marxists theories want! Power and Control, not equality or opportunity! We need these two men: Lincoln and King taught in school. We need real civics taught in school. We need patriotism taught in school. Our young need HOPE and the Marxists in charge have no clue and as long as our young are indoctrinated in crap like CRT, this country will not survive!

Wanda Martin
2 months ago

Best article I’ve read in awhile! Peace breeds hope & hope breeds peace.

Alice Y Berg
2 months ago

I believe and understand the amendments that there is the right to have peaceful marches of protest. It includes freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly. Protest are suppose to be peaceful. It does not include breaking in and looting stores, homes or any kind of property, It does not include aggressive behavior toward anybody or persons such as hitting, shooting, throwing items, screaming in faces of other humans, or toward animal, or live stock. It is suppose to be peaceful. I believe these people don’t have peaceful protesting should be jailed fined and it should be a federal offence and thus should be prosecuted.

The law and the police have the right to fulfill there jobs accordingly what is required to hand cuff and what ever means to assist in arresting these criminal actions. The politicians who do not follow law in the illegal action of destruction should be relieved of their duties and be replace.

Why is this going on, I can tell you why and it is not just a opinion. It is to destroy the constitution of the United States by saying it does not work and so they will change and everything will be gone. The reason the constitution is so important to “We the People” is a it is the foundation and with out a foundation anything can happen, such as Over Throwing our Government. We must stick to it and rise above the mass deception of lies and acceptance. The constitution has brought out above any other country and gave us freedoms. “We the People” are the backbone of our government for we control it through our representatives to protect and up hold our freedoms, Speech, religion, the right to own land, press, assembly, to bare arms, the right not to allow the arms services to come in over take our homes, lands for their occupation or to even search without a warrant.

Our constitution has made us strong for anyone who comes here to live. We protect not only our own but other lands. We Are Strong and that is the reason they want to destroy us because we kept others from leaders of China, Germany. Remember the statue of Liberty. We must up hold our constituion, our laws, go forth and be united.

Nick
2 months ago
Reply to  Alice Y Berg

“A right is the language of the unheard,” to quote someone greatly admired by progressives.

John
2 months ago

Excellent!

We should all have our sons and daughters memorize both of these speeches.

Mar
2 months ago

Very well written….wish all school children were required to read the Gettysburg address and many of King’s speeches and study them!

John S.
2 months ago
Reply to  Mar

Many of King’s speeches but certainly not all! Unfortunately some of his talks and writings would fit right in with Critical Race Theory so we need to be very careful how much of his work we reveal to children or adolescents.

Bill on the Hill
2 months ago
Reply to  John S.

Factually spoken John S. We as a free people can read & learn things as we see fit. We have the power to selectively read & learn as well…This not only applies to Lincoln & King, but all things of this world we live in…
Bill on the Hill… :~)

HocasPocas
2 months ago
Reply to  Mar

The Bible is the best reading that any man, woman or child could ever read. It teaches you how to live your life and how to treat others

Sue
2 months ago

Sometimes it’s hard to have hope, but the only other option is despair. But that means they win. So I choose hope.

Matt G
2 months ago
Reply to  Sue

You are so right!

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