My Turn, Evelyn Uddin-Khan: MLK and the elusive dream

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 8, 2023

By Evelyn Uddin-khan

Here we are again, all ready to celebrate and honor the life and dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King. If I sound a little skeptical about the festivities, please forgive me and allow me to explain.

All across the US of A, politicians, civic leaders and the clergy will be out in full dress uniforms meeting and greeting the “others.”

By “others” I mean the Negroes, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims … the people who will be judged by the color of their skin or the religion that they follow, and not the content of their character.

On MLK Day, it is important that politicians leave their cubicles and mingle with the “others.” Give carefully worded speeches, listen to the cries of the oppressed asking for tolerance and acceptance, make a few non-committal promises, and quietly crawl back into their safe cubicles.

Until next year!

Our local civic leaders are more aware of the local inequities, but have less power and influence to change poor lives where it counts.

On the other hand, the role of the clergy is perhaps more influential and their messages have a better chance of reaching the “others”.

Dr. King had a dream, a vision of how he would like to see the people of the United States co-exist. That dream has not materialized. As dreams tend to be, they are ephemeral, and not simple to grab and make them tangible.

Langston Hughes, when he was 14 years old, wrote his first poem, “Dreams Deferred.” It is 11 lines long and worth our perusal. It shows the state of MLK’s dreams for us.

However, there is something, I think, that Dr. King would probably agree with if it is put forward to him.

Certain rules of conduct and belief cannot be legislated. We cannot tell people to love and respect their neighbors, their co-workers, their domestic help. We cannot tell people that God is responsible for our pigmentation. We cannot tell people that religion — the Abrahamic faiths — came directly from God. We cannot tell people that the three races, they all bleed red blood. We cannot tell people that Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same unseen God.

We the people already know these God-given facts. Some of us choose not to accept or practice them, therefore legislated rules will not change those diseased hearts.

No civic or federal laws are needed for people to coexist in peace and harmony. We either like and respect each other or we don’t. What would you say Dr. King?

For Americans, all of us, if there is a single lesson to be learned from the year 2022. It is the old British Anglo-Saxon rule to “divide and conquer.” The British divided and conquered India, Africa, the Pacific, wherever they landed. They built the British Empire with this motto.

“Divide and conquer” is an Anglo-Saxon maxim, not an American “thing.” In 2022, America was internally divided, but thank God, the Anglo-Saxon rule did not conquer.

Dr. King, it’s a shame that we as a people cannot embrace each other and see the “good” in the people around us — that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

We are a country torn apart by hate, rage, distrust, greed and hunger for power. Who better than MLK to help us stop the bleeding and heal the wounds.

“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.”

Sorry Dr. King, we are a long way from that elusive dream. Race and religion still rule our nation.

Evelyn Uddin-khan moved to Salisbury in 2018 after living in the New York City area for most of her life. She taught in public schools and for a community college in the New York City area.