MLK. I am not trivially referring to the tenth and final track on U2’s 1984 album, The Unforgettable Fire. But rather an American we celebrate each year whose pastoral vision of America’s future became the mantra of the entire western world.
What do you think when you hear the word vision? If you are younger, a Marvel Comic book synthezoid hero may come to mind. Tech insiders may recognize Vision as the name of the new electric vehicle to be produced by Sony Entertainment’s new division – an EV that Sony assures will have the cutting edge of creativity and technology. And if you gravitate towards the overused best man speech: Merriam-Webster defines vision as something that you imagine; a picture that you see in your mind.
But this day, vision means a memory as well as the steadfast dream of a perfect day to come.
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of the marble etched Emancipation Proclamation – Rev. King delivered the 17-minute message rhetoric experts voted the “top American speech of the 20th Century.” It redirected the conversation of the country regarding the rights of all Americans to participate in a nation that had fallen short of its intent to offer “liberty and justice for all.”
From his speech: “I say to you today, my friends… 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…’”
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr set in motion a movement that outlived his short life (King died at 39). Unlike corporate industries, he didn’t struggle with knowing what vision means. He left no confusion regarding his dream: “When this happens… we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last… thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
Great leaders have great vision; powerful people have powerful dreams. What’s your vision? What are your dreams? Who knows it? Will it outlive you? Does the result of your vision include gratefulness, glory and/or praise to God Almighty?