Editorial: The stuff of dreams

We are coming up on a long holiday weekend during which we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the life, the sacrifice, and the vision of this most influential man.

King, of course, is our best-known civil rights leader, who argued tirelessly for his dream of equality for all. Not just for African Americans and whites, but for people of all colors and creeds. “… we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last!” he said in his famous I Have a Dream speech.

Here in Wilton, happily, there is reason to believe King’s dream persists. Last Friday, as can be seen in a photo on Page 3A, members of Temple B’nai Chaim welcomed the town’s Syrian refugee family to a Shabbat service. It was a particularly poignant event, since one of the Syrian children was marking his 6th birthday and the temple congregants joined in his celebration as he and his family joined in theirs.

This event underscores the need to look beyond our mode of dress, the color of our skin, and the way we pray to what is in the heart of each one of us.

Two other noteworthy events take place this weekend at the Wilton Historical Society. They are the Seeds of Diversity and Hands of Friendship workshops. On Saturday, children are invited to plant seeds of all kinds near one another in a planter which they can take home and then watch grow side by side. (Interestingly, there is a gardening method called companion planting, in which plants of different types thrive when planted near one another rather than in large, homogenous plots.)

On Monday, children may create paper hands of many colors.

King’s speech resonates as clearly today as it did when he gave it in 1963, which is unfortunate, given that our country has made only modest gains in the intervening 54 years. And if you read it, you can substitute many other minorities — most notably the LGBT community — for the blacks King was speaking to.

The biggest takeaway from that speech, which we would all do well to remember, is his observation that we must all move forward together. One group’s freedom is intrinsically tied to another’s. One cannot — should not — benefit at the expense of another. As King so simply said, “We cannot walk alone.”