In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. . . . 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. . . . one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963 “I Have A Dream” (emphasis added)

This is Dr. King’s real dream, a color blind society where there is no discrimination and we are all united in love for each other. We should be seeking unity with our neighbors, coworkers, and everyone we meet regardless of skin color.  So how are we doing?

The election of President Barack Obama is a good starting point.  It says something about our country that a person of color can be elected to the highest office in the United States and that some prejudice is finally overcome.  It is at the same time a very sad thing that in countless news stories, opinion pieces, media outlets, blogs, and other media the main point is that we elected a black man.  This primary focus on President Obama’s skin color is dehumanizing of him.  Why couldn’t we have just elected a person who was determined by the voters to be the best qualified to lead our country and oh, by the way he just happens to be black?  The primary and unending focus on President Obama’s skin color is not consistent with Dr. King’s Dream and highlights the problem.

In the State of New York, the new Senate Majority leader ordered the firing of approximately 200 white staffers while also ordering that all new hires be minorities.  The competency of these new hires has been questionable as well.  The new Senate Majority Leader of New York happens to be black.  If the colors of the players in this saga were reversed you probably would have heard about this already.  The New York Post has been the only news source to point out this problem and it was not on the news page but on the editorial page.  This would qualify as a wrongful deed inconsistent with Dr. King’s dream.

The big news of the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor is that she is the first hispanic nominated to the Supreme Court. It is a remarkable success story that she has been able to go as far as she has from her humble beginnings.  The problem is that the focus is on her skin color and ethnicity insteaed of the “content of her character”.  This cheapens her as an individual by primarily identifying her as a hispanic woman and is not consistent with Dr. King’s dream.

It seems that instead of getting past the color barrier and seeking unity we are more divided than ever on race issues.  Popular  wisdom teaches us to be against non-english speaking hispanics because they are probably illeal immigrants.  Popular wisdom continues to focus on past wrongs and discrimination as reasons to give preferential treatment to minorities.  This leads to animosity between groups based solely on the color of skin.  O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in 1995 of the double murder of Anna Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.  Depending on which side of the racial divide you are on you were either elated or disappointed.  We are not getting any closer on the unity between races but the minorities are gaining more political clout.  This should not be confused with progress toward the dream.

We are divided along lines of wealth.  Class envy is a driving force behind tax and social policy these days.  We are focued more on what people have instead of what people are.  We are divided along age lines.  Just this week another editorial was discussing yet one more reason why the younger kids should hate the baby boomers as the greediest generation ever with Social Security, Medicaid, prescription drug coverage, Bailouts, and runaway spending with the costs to be passed on to future generations.

Our politics divide us.  The election of 2000 was particularly rough.  Lawyers were flown in to Florida to litigate the matter and we did not have a declared winner of the election until the Supreme Court ruled on stopping the recount 5-4.  Politics has become bloodsport with issues of the death penalty, military policy, abortion, gay marriage, supreme court appointments, and so many others.  Our nation is more divided than ever.  We cannot even find common ground on whether we should have gone to war in Iraq or Afghanistan yet we have killed thousands and thousands of people in those country and thousands of our own young men and women have been killed or maimed in answering the call to duty and service.

We need to be united.  The Deseret News ran a series of articles just recently about the 1984 National Champion BYU football team.  An ongoing theme in the stories has been that they were not the most talented or experienced team but they were optimistic and unified in their effort.  They never tore each other down and did not permit others to tear anyone down.  They are still largely united as a brotherhood all these years later.  It was their unity with each other and dedication to a common goal that gave them the ability to win every game they played that year.  The founding fathers were united in their efforts to reform at first then to reconstitute the mechanisms of government.  They all were united when they signed the Declaration of Independence and men of similar feelings were again united when they signed the Constitution of the United States.  There is more strengh is unity than there is in division.  When we were united as a nation in World War II, we were attacked and then fought and won a war on two opposite sides of the world in less than four years.  It is now almost eight years after 9-11 and we are still at war.  We need the power of unity to face the problems in front of us and to overcome them.

So how do we puruse Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream?  We need to have the force of character and soul to look at someone and say to ourselves “it does not matter how different we are, I love you and want the best for you”.  We need to respect the differences we have and decide that the differences really do not matter.  We can still get along and love our neighbor.  Love is the answer.  There are plenty of things to be upset about.  There are a million things you could find wrong with how our government and society are functioning right now.  Simply complaining and harboring negative feelings toward others because of the problems is not just a waste of time it is counterproductive.  We can only solve these problems if we work together as a united group.

Let us all work to finally achieve the dream.