In King's last sermon in the Washington Cathedral in 1968, and King was preaching his heart out, he said these words: "We have learned to fly in the air like birds, we have learned to go to the depths of the ocean, we have learned how to build beautiful skyscrapers, but we have not learned the simple art of walking the earth as brothers and sisters." He said, "With all our accomplishments as a society, I can still hear the God of history saying that was not enough, Because I was hungry and you fed me not, I was naked and you clothed me not, I was devoid of a decent sanitary house to live in and you provided no shelter for me. Therefore you, America, do not know me, you do not know me."
"America, oh America", he said, "when will you rise up and live out the true meaning of your creed, that all people are created equal? Those are nice words, those words pierce the heart of so many and yet, tragically in our times, we are losing sight of Dr. King's dream. We see on television commercials promoting corporations, people sayomg they have a dream that they too can be rich, that they too can own a Mercedes, and can have the "things" of life. The CEO with a $20 million dollar salary says, "I have a dream that my corporation will sail on into the multi-billion dollar range." But this was not Dr. King's dream. King said that the social evils of proverty, racism, and war were inextricably bound together, and that there is a loving God in the universe who wills that His children begin to walk the earth as one.
What would Dr. King say about the war question? Well, he spoke loudly about the Vietnam War. He said, The bombs that drop in Vietnam explode in the ghetto because for every dollar spent, for every tens of thousands of dollars spent to drop a bomb, there is less than fifty cents spent for a child that is hungry in the ghetto.
Dr. King insisted that America's war on poverty should be the chief priority of the country. Here, 30 years later, we have a scourge that Dr. King would not have wanted to recognize, called homelessness in America. Now some six million of our brothers and sisters live like that. Where is the dream? One day this nation, he said, would begin to understand his words clearly and see that ALL are endowed with inalienable rights. Inalienable means God-given rights. God gives you the right to housing. God gives you the right to a living wage, and God gives you the right to health care. God gives you the right to be free. But not in America. In America you have to pay through the teeth for these rights. Do you know what a right is? A right is given by your Creator. Jesus knew this, and He gave it freely. Jesus didn't ascend to the heights of worldly aspirations, no, He went to the least first, He went to the last first. This was King's last and greatest dream, to take 3,000 poor people of all colors, from the farmworkers in California, the abject poor in the South, people from all around the United States, to the capital, to remain there until the government began to redress their legitimate grievances.
Do you know what King really believed? He said that we must turn toward our Creator. King believed that only God could provide the strength, the impetus, the long-term change that was needed. That the words we often profess, oh so many that are believers of all religions, do we practice the precepts of our belief?
How long will it take? Not long, he would say, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long. Because you reap what you sow. How long? Not long, because one day we're all going to stand as one people. One day, we're going to see that dream come true, one day, brothers and sisters, I believe.
Make Dr. King's spirit live in your heart. May his spirit continue to inspire us, and may you continue to challenge yourselves to grow in the places where you need to grow, to be the person you are called to be, to be all that you can be - not in the Army's way, but in the army of truth and righteousness and justice. God bless you and keep you. Amen.