I had a dream…… that it snowed in Florida. It was that pretty Hallmark-card-snow-around-the house-with-a-conveniently-freshly-shoveled-drive-way and road, snow.
I have a dream…… that at some point in my life I will get free Starbucks for life. Can you imagine a world where coffee flows like, like… like… like, I don’t really know but; free coffee would just be awesome, right?
I have a dream….. that bad things happen. The good are hurt. The hurt break others. The others cause bad things to happen… and the cycle continues until I wake up to reality. The reality. The reality of the cycle, running with gears and chains of hope.
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.” Yeah, now I’ve got your attention.
These famous words can be found in the memory, short-term or long-term, of most Americans. A speech so common, it can be regurgitated by most school-children. A speech so common, it can be forgotten by most children. Why this speech comes to mind has nothing to do with black or white, but silver.
Silver is what makes life glitter. The silver is what makes a hopeless situation, hopeful again. Silver is what wakes us up every morning, gives us comfort to sleep at night, and holds us close on those cold wintery Florida nights. Silver is the lining. An optimism we should all obtain or strive toward like gold in the Olympics — Or maybe the silver medal is best?
For us to see the silver we must adjust our vision, our gaze or focus… or at least get Lasik or something. We must learn to see the truth in every situation. Truth does not necessarily feel good or make you feel cozy BUT, it is honest at the very least. 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.” While silver is not what MLK meant, the cry for a silver lens is what I see and feel when I regurgitate this quote. What rings loudest is the last segment, “but by the content of their character”…… “content of their character.”
One of the biggest mistakes man commits is claiming to look on the inside but; knowing we look only on the outside while proclaiming loudly (We even post about it.) we only look on the inside. Can we be honest with ourselves for a second? As you walk around town, go to the grocery store, bring your libray books back (Do they even still have those?); who do you see? To most of you reading this, you will fast-fowarded this contemplation because you are either “ethnic” or are married to an “ethnic.” Well, welcome to America folks. A melting pot of all: where all are welcome, embraced, and given the chance to dream the American dream–The Silver dream. I am not writing about the acceptance of color, race or nationality. I live in a time where outward appearance is celebrated. The taller you are, the more likely you’ll be on the cover of a magazine. The crazier your wardrobe, the more you’ll be all over social media. The more videos you make about your sexual exploits; the more interviews, news articles and TV cameos you will have. The snazzier others portray, display their outside, the more we look, dissect, desire. (In that order.) We are okay with that. We willingly “break the internet” with the misconception that our arms are open wide to all but still miss the essence of truth. What’s the point of having open arms when you can’t close them tight? I mean, you can close them…. tight if you want, but what’s in there to hold?.. Not anyone real, anyway. Just the outside because there are no insides.
If we can truly look inside ourselves, we must accept that we are all guilty of this outside perspective. I have a dream that I can live in a world where I will be assessed by my character and nothing else. I don’t want to be favored because of my skin color. I want to be favored because I am loved. I don’t want to be hated because of my curly locks. I want to be hated because I speak up for truth. I don’t want to be ignored because you don’t know what to do with me. I want to be ignored because you finally trust me. I don’t want to be given things because I’m lazy. I want to be given things because I’ve worked for them. I don’t want to be promoted because I was the right gender. I want to be promoted because I earned the position. I don’t want to instantly be dismissed because my hair is yellow. I want to be instantly dismissed whenever I am too yellow to fight the odds. I don’t want to be celebrated because I stood for anything. I want to be celebrated because I stood FOR. SOMETHING. I don’t want to be denied because I didn’t fit some mold. Deny me because I didn’t work hard, I didn’t get the grade, I didn’t make the cut. We don’t do ourselves nor future generations any favors by dressing ourselves in a victim mentality and walking down the red carpet of life for all the world to see.
Sometimes I will be wrong. Sometimes I’ll need to be scolded. Sometimes I may stumble… and that’s okay. What is not okay is being wrong, needing a scolding, stumbling; and having no one in your life that loves you enough to let you know. No one who will tell me, even though I may be dressed to the nines or the one that “tells it like it is;” when my character is busted, I am just ugly.
The silver lining is that once we know we’re ugly, we can easily fix it. We can change. We can work harder. We can be nicer. We can be honest, not cheat, not lie, give.
Open up your eyes to see, truly see, not just the people around you but truly see yourself. It’s okay to not be perfect but it’s not okay to know the change you need to make and not make it. It’s okay to make mistakes but it’s not okay to make other people pay for them. It’s okay to do what you want but ask yourself, is it truly making you happy?
“Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the inside.” This statement is such a provocative revelation. First of all, it shows man’s limitations. Man’s incessant pursuit of the temporal beauty; the skin-deep mask. Second of all, it show’s God’s inability to see with limits. He truly sees the heart, the brain, and courage in mankind and not because He is some illustrious wizard behind a shiny curtain, but, because He is the shininess in all of us. He is silver and wants to refine us as such.
I have a dream….”…they will…be judged…by the content of their character.” We all have a story — a sad one at that. We all have a fear, a struggle, an addiction, a phobia, an ex, an old letter, a secret identity, and hidden desire. What makes our lives worthy of a life is what we leave behind after our 70ish years. Our duty is not to leave this world these fears, struggles or exes. Our duty is to leave them with our fight to overcome these imperfections. Our duty is to not let them see just our story, but to see US. Our duty is to not be defined as our issue but, to be defined in spite of our issue. That my friends, is true character. Not that we will ever achieve perfection or utopia but, we sure as heck, need to try. The winning is not in the prize. The winning is in the running. The winning is not in passing others who didn’t finish; it’s in crossing YOUR finish line no matter the obstacles, challenges, and weather. No matter how stormy your life may get, remember, every cloud has a silver lining… or maybe two.
Pastor Sonia Figueroa