The timeless power of 'I Have a Dream'

A Christian Science perspective: 'Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.' - Martin Luther King Jr.

He was never a man to fixate on the past. A half century after the fact it seems almost certain that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would not want to find our gaze locked onto the past either. Perhaps a few words from his "I Have a Dream" speech tell us as much, and hint at where and when he might hope to find us looking today. "Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."

Perhaps those words still speak with such force because they feel authentic. Taking in their message involves turning heads as well as transforming hearts. They spark a readiness to change and to be changed, and not just for young people, but for dreamers of every age. One doesn't have to look to a far-off past, or to an imagined future. Right now we are all "God's children." Right here we are on solid ground. Right now "the solid rock of brotherhood" is beneath our feet. Right here is the sure footing that is shared by all offspring of the heavenly Father.

That's the "where" and the "when" of it. That's the here and now of it. As the true nature of our divine Parent comes into focus, we see our relationship to Him, and therefore our relationship to one another. We all have human rights. Those rights have a spiritual source. What is that source? What is that divine underpinning to our human rights? God and His presence. The Almighty and His power. The heavenly Father and His law. Simply put, these are the source, the spiritual basis for all human rights.

The Father, whom Christ Jesus recognized we all have in common, and His forever law – they are the ongoing source of those rights. Know this deeply, and the rock-solid certainty of His true nature then shows up on the human scene as our own rock-likeness, our own true Christliness. Realize this in prayer and it tends to lift the human condition higher. It serves as an underpinning to all that is worth sustaining, including human rights and human equality. They are essential to our civil, moral, and spiritual advancement. Even when that advancement seems abstract, its promise is concrete. There is a unity of principle, a oneness of purpose, that unites us.

Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy lived in a time that – when measured against today – paid almost no heed to human rights and the divine source of them. This was the case whether the rights in question were those of women or those of African-Americans. Keep in mind, this was a time that overlapped with the end of slavery in the United States. In Mrs. Eddy's primary work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote, "With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science" (pp. 469-470).

The truth of that passage can't help but dawn. It can't help but bring to light the rights we each deserve. Greater freedom follows.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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