Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is my favorite American holiday… but I’ve never read I Have a Dream! Today, I will listen to this speech that transformed the world.
And I’ll think about the meaning of freedom. I’ll think about the meaning of equality.
Does freedom mean being able to do what I want? Does it mean being able to think what I want? How could I know what to do or think if totally free from outer influence?
If I’m not physically oppressed by other humans, does the sheer physical reality of my body impose constraints? What about the limits of the self-destructive tendencies within my mind? What would it be like to be free from the mental forces of habitual desire and anger and delusional conceptions?
If equality means that everyone has the same right to pursue happiness, what grants one that right? Is it the basic fact that everyone has the same wish to attain happiness? Is it based on the fundamentally same potential that everyone has to achieve a state of happiness? What is the relationship between right, capacity, and responsibility?
Today, I quake with gratitude, amazed that these thoughts and questions were even able to arise in my mind. I did not furnish the notions of freedom and equality out of nothing, nor did they arise miraculously out of some neurologic storm. I’m only able to enjoy the fruits of these reflections because of the courage and compassion of people who strove without rest to ease the sufferings of their fellow human, establishing ideas and conventions along the way.
Today, I will pursue these questions in order to actualize complete freedom for myself and all beings, my equals.