The Content of Our Character

Published: August 28, 2023

By Jim Lichtman
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Today marks the 60th anniversary of the march on Washington led by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King in the battle for civil rights.

King’s “I Have a Dream” speech has become part of the lexicon of American history notably for one passage. “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.”

Today, we are in a new battle: a battle for civil discourse, reasoned debate and honorable leadership. Right now, the character of the country is being tested like never before.

We cannot move forward by remaining stuck in the past of hate, bigotry, and selfishness.

We may take different paths in our pursuit of happiness, but that journey should never come at the expense of our national character—character based on trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

Amid the unstoppable chaos and damage to America’s soul, can we muster the moral strength to move beyond our weaknesses? Can we elevate character over cynicism?

As we celebrate Dr. King’s inspiring speech, his words continue to challenge what we stand for.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

Can we . . will we open our hearts to listen and be a force for good?

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