When we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., we celebrate a great deal more than the life of a great man. We even celebrate more than a period in American history when our country took a very large step forward toward the dreams of our founding fathers. We celebrate the whole idea that each of us has a responsibility bring out the authority in others.
Today in so many schools across the country children of all races and economic backgrounds are being abused in the most insidious way. They are learning that they don’t matter. They are learning that they are stupid or gifted–both labels do damage. They are learning that if they are “challenged” there is something wrong with them. (We know better than to call it a disability, but we don’t know better than to use a euphemism for it.) What we really want for our children is for them all to be challenged, and for them to love rising to a challenge.
My vision is that all children (who are born already loving a challenge) will continue to love a challenge after their first year in kindergarten, will continue to love a challenge after thirteen years of school and will go on to their next phase of life welcoming this process of building their authority by rising to a challenge.
For this concept is essential to the concept of liberty. If our voices are to “ring with the harmonies of liberty,” those in authority from parents to teachers to principals to presidents need to use as a yardstick for the quality of their authority, their ability to increase the authority of others. Done right it is a challenge of a lifetime, but rising to this challenge is the only way for us to be happy in a world with other people. It is also the only way for our nation to realize its dreams.