"I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land."
Ironically, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered these words in his famed "Mountain Top" speech on April 3, 1968, only one day prior to the tragic shooting that would end his all-too-short life.
King fought for a dream too large for most of humankind to imagine possible; yet he had a gift that would paint the vision for all to see. Admittedly, we have a long way to go, but where would we be today if the famed Nobel Peace Prize winner had not courageously and peacefully combated racial inequality? King's dream lives on; touching our lives significantly and growing closer to reality with each new generation.
"I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren't fit to live."
King gifted us with powerful lessons, too many to count, woven into the tapestry of his pursuit of a dream that would change the world. Here are only a few:
Have a clear intention.
"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. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again, and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."
King delivered a spellbinding example of clear intentions in his "I Have a Dream" speech. Even if the difference you seek is meant only to affect the quality of your own life, be clear on what it is you want, as well as the path to get there. Write about it, draw it, talk about it; whatever the means of arriving at your destination, set clear intentions of your own.
Choose a path that's different from the rest.
"Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
While others engaged in methods of violence, King used the power of love and nonviolent resistance to advocate for freedom and equality.
Develop a unique, long term plan to accomplish what's important to you. There may be people who resist, even attack your vision, but remain strong and determined, just as King did.
Avoid placing blame or fault on others, or on life circumstances. You are responsible for your dream, even when it seems the world is against you. King owned the outcome and never used seemingly impossible circumstances as an excuse to give up. In fact, one of his most powerful writings resulted from his stay in the Birmingham jail, where he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation.
Back your dream with considerable action.
To dream is to dream, but to act is to make that dream come true. From speeches that moved people to tears, to peaceful demonstrations, King devoted his life to leading change. It's nearly impossible to boil down his actions, but I've tried:
- King peacefully brought worldwide publicity to major civil rights activities and efforts
- He emphatically reinforced the importance of non-violent protest and resistance
- And he provided respected and captivating leadership to the African-American civil rights movement
- Martin Luther King, Jr. moved the most powerful, and the least heard, people into action
Capture your audience with storytelling.
In King's "I Have a Dream" speech, he told a story that captivated his audience. It had a beginning, middle, and an end. He spoke of important timelines in American history; addressed promises that were never kept and the impact of that, and lastly, he painted a vivid picture of his magnificent dream.
To gain the support of others, develop a compelling story and engage the power of persuasion through a riveting delivery and determined presence.
Never give up.
Your dream drives the passion with which you endure, create, and thrive. King's life was riddled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but, for him, they were not.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King, Jr.