How far have we come? It’s been almost 50 years since his “I have a dream” speech, yet I find myself, on the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, asking: How far have we come?
It is safe to say that the strides against racial intolerance have improved. Inequality in many forms is far from obliterated in our society, but the days of the ridiculous “separate but equal” (and the akin “don’t ask don’t tell”) are gone. It’s difficult to say that the undoing of a senseless law is progress, but there you have it. The United States got off to an unusual start. Truly it was a conglomeration of nationalities…but friction was nearly inevitable when everyone tried to scrape their way to the top, fight for power and autonomy and, in general, make a life. A nation built on freedoms? Well, with all due respect, I suppose that depends on whose perspective you’re viewing.
I wish I’d seen the Marceline, Missouri that was so beloved by Walt Disney. In my vision, it is the America that was intended. I don’t know this as fact, but I do know that the representation of Marceline in Magic Kingdom, is a slice of perfect American apple pie. Of course it is quaint…it is old fashioned, down home, representative of simpler times and good ol’ values. Would you like to know my favorite part? I love that I can look down Main Street USA and see an idyllic America. Within the architectural splendor, coupled with the flowers and the clean streets, the real beauty emerges: a melting pot. People of all colors, of all religions and ethnicities, sexual orientation and levels of disabilities –together…peacefully…happily.
“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” –mlk
Do we love more when we visit Disney World?
I would give that a great big Maybe. Maybe we simply tolerate more. Maybe we understand the “principle of love” more than we usually let on. I’d like to explore this idea, though. How is it that when we enter the Magic Kingdom, all differences can be set aside? Perhaps we all get sprinkled with pixie dust as we enter the gates and love is in the air! No? Are we all just happy to be there? Perhaps, but I do know I have witnessed many a grumpy grump…especially at the end of the day. Maybe it is because we have all paid the same price to get in?
Is that it? We all paid the same price, so we all deserve to be there enjoying it just as much as everyone else.
Who paid the highest price to get to live in the United States? Is there a continuous struggle between cost and guilt, admittance and denials? I am in no position to answer this question with any authority, but it is interesting to think about. I will say that as we ponder the price our own ancestors paid, it might be good to consider objectively the cost to others as well. No one got in for free, but guilty consciences don’t solve quandaries either. In the end, cost really doesn’t add up to a satisfying conclusion. In the end we are all living in this small world, we deserve to be here, we deserve respect and we deserve love. Everyone. No exceptions.
“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.”-mlk
The United States was built on values. Some have been tweaked, ignored or forgotten completely, but underneath it all is a foundation of good intentions. Tolerance isn’t enough, it is important to accept. Yes, and even to love.
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”-mlk
Can you imagine? How would life be if that Magical Main Street were the norm in every town across our beautiful nation? What if you walked down the block and every face you saw had a smile and a “good morning” for you…and you for them? A celebration of differences! I do believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud.
“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
This is the essence of Walt Disney’s Main Street. It could be done no better, but we sure can better the rest of the streets of America.