Why I Watch It Every Year...
Perhaps like many of you, every year I watch Martin Luther King Jr's speech "I Have a Dream". And I don't watch it in the way of having it playing in the background while I do something else. I watch it as if for the first time. I watch it as if I need it. I watch it, perhaps, because when I saw it for the first time, it was like getting a chiropractic adjustment for my soul.
I often need to go to a chiropractor because I am out of alignment and can barely move. Low back problems in tall people. In these moments, I am desperate to sit on that table and to have the skillful hands of the good doctor set me right. Maybe it's just like that. My life continually getting out of alignment, needing an adjustment.
And I won't forget being in high school, sitting in that front row in class at North Eugene High School. It's too simple and makes me a caricature of the moment to say I was a big, tall jock fairly disinterested with the world. But it wouldn't be too far from the truth. I remember the large disc as my teacher placed it in the video player. The screen could not have been that large. But it seemed like I was in an IMAX theater, his character and force of will huge before me. It felt like I was face-to-face with Martin Luther King jr. himself. When he began to talk--that commanding voice--everything else fell away. At the end, I had tears coming down my cheeks. And I didnt know why.
I had received an adjustment. And I would never really be the same. I can trace it all back: my travels to rural Alaska, non English-speaking neighborhoods in Seattle working on local food systems, Peace Corps in Paraguay, and many other attempts to do my small part to fulfill the dream. I need to do more. I need to use my privilege and place to help those who are unjustly treated.
That's why I watch every year. I encourage my kids and students to do the same. And invite you as well.