I must have heard Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech a hundred times. Today, as we celebrate his birthday, I heard something new:
This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
I realized this time just what a hurry Dr. King was in. While he speaks of it directly here, that rush of urgency is in every word he’s spoken.
No doubt he had good reason to be. A lifetime is simply too short (his especially). There’s too much work to do.
I often wonder, when I meet a new patient, and I hear a description of years of anguish, “Why aren’t you more frustrated? Why aren’t you in a bigger hurry?” There’s something about the prolonged agony of unhappiness that perpetuates an inexplicable stagnation; it keeps you stuck.
There’s a lot of “help” that seems designed to slow us down. Just as moderates said to King:
“It’ll take time, Dr. King.”
Or, “You’ve got to start small, Dr. King.”
Or, “Don’t be in too much of a hurry, Dr. King.”
He compared this “help” to a psychiatric drug: “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”
Aren’t you tired of taking your time?