Last week saw the fiftieth anniversary of possible the greatest speech of the twentieth century. Given by one of the greatest orators of his age, and for the past few days I have been trying to write a piece about that speech.
It has been one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do, trying to write in a few short words how that one speech affected me when I first read it, then when I saw it in grainy black and white.
Until I realised what I was doing, as I re-read what I had written; I was trying to match the power and passion of those words, delivered with such conviction. I of course failed, but it did suddenly hit me that in trying to write like the late great Martin Luther King I was missing the whole point of the speech.
It’s not about trying to be like anyone else, it’s not even about trying to be the way society wants me to be. It’s about being the best possible me I can be, and you being the best possible you you can be.
So I took a twenty minute break and sat down with a cup of tea and re-read the whole speech, not just the section everybody quotes. And as I read I was again filled with the power of those words, the words of passion that were trying to unite a divided society.
It struck me just how relevant those words are today, when we live in a society not just divided but shattered into so many pieces. A society where people are miss-trusted because they have a different faith; where people are mocked because they have a different sexuality or way of dressing.
A society where the gap between those who have money and those who don’t has never been wider: it seems that in the past fifty years we have found more and more ways to become a more divided world; a bit strange that when you think that it has never been easier to communicate one person to another.
It seems that over the past fifty years we have learned so much but forgotten a simple message, and to miss-quote a great man isn’t it about time we judged people not on the colour of their skins, or their religion, or their sexuality or disability’s, but on the content of their souls.
Better yet isn’t it time we stopped judging people and just accepted the fact that we are all human beings living in one small place; and it would be a far better place if we tried putting as much effort into getting along as we do in trying to kill each other.