Snarky Faith 1/17/17
A rundown of all you need to know about the new normal including Trump’s inauguration, Christian’s obsession with Israel and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for America. We’ve also added a new segment called What’s Good? What’s Bad? chronicling the interweb’s best and worst of the week. Join us as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.
Tune in and come along for the ride…
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Title: The New Normal?
Program: Snarky Faith Radio
Host: Stuart Delony
Well, good afternoon, and welcome to another round of Snarky Faith Radio. I’m your host, Stuart Delony. As a matter of housekeeping, I just wanted to give a shout out to you guys, our dear listeners, from the airwaves. Also, for those of you listening to us via Internetlandtopia, “What’s up? Hey. How’s it going?” More importantly, I just to thank you guys for tuning in week after week being a part of this show as it continues to grow and get more traction. We can’t do it without you, so much appreciation to all of you.
If you’re looking to connect with us more and more, you can find us on www.snarkyfaith.com. You can go on Facebook/SnarkyFaith. It’s just that easy, or you can find us on Twitter, same idea, Twitter/ — what is it again? Huh? Huh? What is it? That’s right it’s SnarkyFaith. That was an easy pop quiz to start off the show.
What I wanted to do is give you a little snapshot of where we were going to be going over this next hour taking this from the perspective of, hey, we’ve got the shallow end. You know the area where you like to dip those toesies in and it progresses all the way to the deep-end-type conversations. Remember, I will have no running on the side of the pool. We may have to pull out the lifeguard whistle if that’s going on. No tomfoolery around here whatsoever especially on the show called Snarky Faith. [laughs] [sarcasm]
Some of the shallow end, which you may laugh at even the mention of this being the shallow end, would be our nightmare scenario that happens this coming Friday otherwise know as the presidential inauguration. We’ll dip our toes into that just a little bit. As we start to get into the deeper dive, we’ll hop in to a little topic.
To be honest, it’s something that’s baffled me in my faith walk, ever since I was a kid, was this one thing. You’d hear people talk about it. You hear people going on and on about it, support this one area. I just found it to be incredibly bizarre. As our deeper end segment that we’ll get into may be one of those things that may create a little bit of ire amongst some of you out there. I invite the conversation.
Through the course of this, my whole goal would be, really, to ask more questions than to, actually, prove a point or to say this is right or wrong. That topic being, that I want to hop in with, will be what is Christian’s obsession with Israel? This whole “We’re a Christian nation. We have to stand behind Israel for whatever the heck they want to do.” It doesn’t make sense. What’s the history behind it? All that kind of good stuff. We’ll hop into that, and then, we’ll find ourselves landing off that diving board at the end talking a little bit about Dr. Martin Luther King. How’s that sound for you, boys and girls? How’s that sound for a show setup? I think it’s a good one. Let’s just go ahead and hop in.
Starting off the show, I wanted to start this off with a new segment that we’re going to be bringing here to the show. Here’s how it’s going to work. The new segment is going to be called — I guess, if I’m giving it to you now, it’s not going to be called anything. It actually is this. We’re going to have this segment recurring on the website and also, here on the radio, called, “What’s good? What’s bad?”
It’s really going to chronicle things that have occurred out there in the interwebs over the past week, some of them good, some of them bad, mainly, stuff in the vein that you would expect from this show, mainly, in the vein in the things that we shall call, “Very Snarky.” Some of them will make you go, “Huh.” Some of them will make you go, “Aha.” That’s really the goal for it. What we’ll do is that I will give an overview of them here on the show, but you can find all the links, all the transcriptions, from a broader base on our website at www.snarkyfaith.com. How’s that sound? Here we have it, “What’s good? What’s bad?” from the past week.
The first up on the list, we have Martin Shkreli. If anybody knows him, they pretty much hate him or want to punch him in the face. He’s the guy also known as the “Pharma bro”, the dude that took over a pharmaceutical company, jacked up the prices just to make a bunch of profit. He’s super creepy, super smug. Like I said before, he kind of has one of those faces that just begs to be punched.
The first one we’re having here in the “What’s good? What’s bad?” is good for me. It’s probably bad for Martin. They had a video [laughs] where he was being interviewed and, of all things, somebody pelted him with dog poo on the face. It’s a beautiful moment. [sarcasm] Just makes me smile. Moving on.
Next, we have what I would say is pretty beautiful on many different fronts, where you actually have a comic book artist that has turned Donald Trump’s most controversial quotes into comic book covers from comics that we know and we love. It’s as amazing as you can think. It’s really just one of those things that I personally feel is just escapism, ways to survive the coming apocalypse of our dear Führer, the Don.
Then, stepping into the realm of the absurd because there’s only one way to think of this situation as absurd. There was a guy who, apparently, had nothing better to do. His YouTuber name is Mr. Beast. Apparently, as we all do, we have dumb ideas from time to time. No, no, no. Mr. Beast said, “My dumb idea needs to be transitioned into YouTube gold.” He, literally, counted to 100,000 on video for no good reason. It took him 40 hours on YouTube to count that high.
Hey, if any of you are listening to this right now and feeling like you are pretty lazy and that you’re wasting time by not being productive enough in January because January is all about resolutions and being productive and making our life grand [sarcasm], just think of Mr. Beast, a dude who killed 40 hours on camera simply counting to 100,000. Well done, buddy. [sarcasm] We can all do it. We just don’t choose to do it because it’s a tremendous waste of time.
Lastly, I give you something that’s good but something that’s pretty horrible at the same time for you. Taco Bell has released the fact that they are going to be rolling out the Naked Chicken Chalupa. That sounds decent enough, right? Taco Bell. Chicken chalupa. Uh-huh. [sarcasm] No, no. Here’s where it goes wrong. The entire taco shell is made out of fried chicken. It ends up feeling like one of those things you’d find at a carnival where they deep fry Snickers, or sticks of butter, or things of that realm of whatever you want to call it, of disgustingness.
I guess it’s one way for you to, somehow, be able to block out the coming apocalypse that happens this Friday called the inauguration. So, yeah, go ahead eat up however many god-forsaken calories that is going to be contained in that thing that is absolutely disgusting. Again, thanks, Taco Bell. You know how to procure wonderful delights that, pretty much, only makes sense to potheads late at night. Well done. Well done because this somehow topped your Cheeto chalupa and your Dorito taco. I didn’t think you could top it, but you proved me wrong once again. [sarcasm]
To the last two items on our list of “What’s good? What’s bad” for this week, the first one of those two comes from Martin E. Marty, who writes an article called “The Metaphysical Moment.” It really began to tap into to something that I found very interesting lately. If any of you out there have been watching HBO’s Westworld or Netflix’s The OA, both of which, are quite interesting. What Martin, here, is getting out is that we’re hitting this pop culture moment, this pop culture metaphysical moment, where we’re beginning to look at these weird interchanges between what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to have knowledge? What does it mean to be a part of some sort of a faith community?
If you haven’t seen either of those, one of those that I would recommend more than the other — I enjoyed Westworld and I’m really still curious what is going to happen next. Watching Westworld, I had that feeling the entire time through the series. This is really interesting. I’m really enjoying this. There’s not a whole lot for me to hook my claws into while I’m watching this, but I just kept waiting for something more to happen. Every episode left you with this, “I’m waiting for something more to happen.”
Of those two, the first one I mentioned was OA, which is over on Netflix that my wife and I totally binge-watched through. I’m not even sure what the past tense of binge-watched is. OA, it is a fascinating, ambiguous, mysterious bit of television that is going out there that I was engaged with the entire time. There was larger questions of the afterlife, larger questions of existence and connection, and what does it mean to be part of a community? I found the show quite beautiful and was left with a cliffhanger at the end of it going, “Oh my gosh. When is season two going to happen? Is it going to happen? When is it going to happen? It can’t happen soon enough.” I really, really enjoyed that.
I, also, enjoyed Martin’s article, too, on that. I think you will find really interesting because I think he’s tapping into something that — we’re hitting this weird moment where, for the longest time in our culture, there was science. There was religion, and never the two shall meet. The two, science and religion, will, oftentimes, seem to be enemies of one another. I think through the realms of story and storytelling, mini-series and TV, we’re beginning to see these larger questions that are being asked that, honestly, I wish were being asked in faith communities, that I wish were being asked in churches, but are not.
Martin’s article begins to scratch the surface of something that I felt has been going on that, maybe, science and religion are not mutually exclusive. Maybe, they can be something that informs one another, and this divide that we’ve drawn needs to be erased so that voices from both sides can begin to talk, and to listen, and to learn from one another.
On that, my last item for our “What’s good? What’s bad?” of the week is from none other than Russell Brand. I know. I know. Some of you love him. Some of you hate him. It seems like more people out there hate him, but I will tell you this, that dude can ask some interesting questions here and there when he’s not being overtly crass.
He published an article this week — not an article. He published a video this week of him talking through what led us to where we are at here right now to where, somehow, to most of the country, where Trump made sense, or across the pond over in England where Brexit made sense. Instead of him attacking where we are at, which, hey, I do it. [laughs] Many of us do it. I call it a coping mechanism. It’s the only way I survive by being snarky and attacking these things.
What I love that Brand does in this video that you can find on our website, is that he begins just to ask the deeper questions of what brought us here and why did those two huge decisions that impact each of our nations, that will impact many more than just our two nations. Why were we at a place where this, somehow, made sense to a lot of people, where these options made too much sense? I think his voice is one that we need to listen to, to hold on to, and to wrestle through. I would just go ahead and tell you it is definitely worth a listen. You should hop on over there.
That brings us to the end of this segment. I would love it if you guys see stuff that’s good and bad, that’s interesting, and aha-type moments, if you could send them to us. We could include them on the show, include them on the website. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or just interact with us on Facebook and Twitter. Now, we’re going to move on from there.
I mentioned this earlier as we began our show, the first talking points that we’re going to delve into for this show segment is the impending doom of the inauguration that happens this Friday. I know that many of us are having a hard time dealing with this. There’s a lot of protests going on. There is a lot of activity over social media and through the news. It’s like a bad dream that is found its way into reality.
Oftentimes, when we have these bad dreams, we wake up and go, “Oh my gosh. Yes, it was only a dream.” We’re now at this critical mass moment of going, “Oh my gosh. It was only a dream. Wait. No. It’s not.” This is our new normal. This is our new reality. We are going to have Donald Trump as president. For how long? We’re not sure. He will probably do that on his own if there’s going to be something along the lines of an impeachment pending forward. He’ll dig his own grave with that one.
Oftentimes, I felt that being able to watch Saturday Night Live or different late-night comedy hosts is the laugher that is medicine that we need. We need to be able to laugh our way through this insane place that we find ourselves in this moment of history where, most certainly, if the world lasts years into the future, that I believe historians will find great interest in being able to dissect what led to all of these things happening.
What I want to tell you is this, the new buzzword that we have out across the news, across social media, is the “fake news” that is going on. It was last week, I believe, when Trump was even declaring that CNN was fake news. It’s become this thing that has creeped into our lexicon. Instead of sitting there, because that’s kind of low hanging fruit being able to pick through the fake news, what I want to be able to do is to pick through the real news.
If you watch news, if you pay attention to your Facebook feed, if you digest the news online or watch it on TV, one thing that I’ve noticed overwhelming over the last while, is that we will get caught up in these bizarre news cycles much like — let me pause for this. Does anybody remember back in the day when we had Weekly World News? Do you remember that? You were in the checkout line in the grocery store and they would have these ridiculous headlines about Batboy being found or Elvis still being alive. I will tell you that I love those guys.
I was taking a speech class in college and we had to come up with a persuasive speech, a speech where we were taking a topic where most people would disagree with. We had to give a speech that would convince our audience otherwise. Me being snarky even back in my younger days, I decided to take on the fact that I wanted to prove that Elvis was still alive, really, because it amused me. For my backing sources, I ended up writing them a letter. This is not pre-email but things weren’t as online as they are nowadays. I ended up, literally, handwriting an email to the Weekly World News down in Florida. They were gracious enough and sent me an entire packet of all of the crazy and insane news that they had curated over the years about Elvis being alive. Long story short, I got an “A” on the project. I was one of the few persuasive speakers in that class that was able to win over a bunch of people on a topic as ridiculous as whether or not Elvis is alive.
My point being, we used to have those tabloid-driven news, which we still have today in the checkout lines and we have them online as well. It feels like the mainstream media — and I know, I know me saying this makes my skin crawl because I feel like it makes me end up sounding like Sarah Palin. That is one person you never want to sound like unless you’re probably doing drunk karaoke. One thing I want us to begin to do is to become very attuned listeners to when we digest news that is coming our way.
I can think of this last week, half of it was the fake news that came out about Trump, and having Russian prostitutes, and having them pee on a bed because what else do you do with Russian prostitutes besides have them pee on a bed. [sarcasm] This thing was given way too much traction. It was given way too much time, and the news continued to run with it because (a) it’s absurd, (b) it gets people’s interest because it’s ridiculous. It could be true which makes it even more ridiculous, but most likely, it’s not true. I think that we need to become a people that are discerning listeners, people that aren’t sharing crazy crap unless it’s in a “What’s good? What’s bad?” section on our show.
I think as we move into what it looks like a Trump presidency, I think that we need to learn how to listen better. I think that we need to learn how to digest the things that we’re talking about, and we’re Tweeting about, and blogging about, and, hey, on my own time, what I’m yelling on the radio about. I think we need to move back towards what it would mean to be reasonable.
I know it feels like we are in a time right now where nothing is reasonable and everyone is our enemy, that there are so many crazy people out there whether they be — hey, if you’re a conservative, the liberals are crazy. If you’re a liberal, the conservatives are crazy. We’ve just moved to a place where we can’t even have a reasonable conversation anymore with one another. If there’s anything that is good that we can bring out of this insanity that is the Trump presidency, it should be that we need to return towards being people that are thoughtful, people that pause before we answer, people that think about how our words are going to impact others, and at the end of day, people that are worried about the greater good.
I know a lot of times we get caught up in the fact that we want to be able to rant about stuff. I do it. I have a radio show and I do it, so I’m as guilty as anybody. I think that instead of us ranting on things, I think that we need to learn to be able to pause, to take a deep breath, and to have a deeper introspection towards how we engage with the world around us because, really, what’s happened lately is that everything seems to just spiral out of control. News stories spiral out of control. We get more interested by just the insidious nature of humanity through the news to where the news has become, pretty much, like the Weekly World News used to be. That’s not good.
When we begin to consume things that turn us on our neighbor, when we begin to consume things that make us worried about the other in our culture, we’ve brought ourselves to a point where we are not people that are understanding of other people’s stories. We begin to get hyper-judgmental about stuff. We don’t give people the benefit of the doubt. I think we need to learn how to play nice all over again. I will tell you, this is not an easy road. I will tell you that this is going to take time, this is going to take patience, and it is going to take some sort of fortitude that we have to draw from deep within ourselves in order to take that deep breath and not lash back at the other when they are making crazy allegations or causing crazy names of us.
As we look towards this Trump inauguration, I would hope that we can move closer towards sanity and further away from insanity because the way things are rolling, things are just going to get more and more crazy if we continue on this path. I think it brings us to this point where we need to be able to say, “Enough is enough.” I want to restore sanity. I want to restore humanity. I want to end up being a good neighbor. I want to end up being a person that is thoughtful, that is kind, that can put a stop to all of this vitriol that keeps rolling around social media, the news, and even within common conversations that we’re having with others.
My advice to you moving forward is to learn to take a deep breath, learn to let certain comments just move on, but have the posture that you want to make things better. Look in your community, in your own spheres, how you can change things positively, how you can make a difference. That is the only way that we are going to be able to make any kind of positive change moving forward in the midst of all of this insanity.
Moving on to the topic of Christianity’s absolute obsession with the nation-state of Israel. I will begin this conversation with the end of a speech by Susan Michael that is from the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem. She ends this prayer breakfast speech with these words, and I think we can use some of these words to be able to frame the conversation that is surrounding Christianity’s obsession with nation-state of Israel.
She ends up by saying this, “To summarize, we stand with Israel and her claim to Jerusalem because we share the same biblical and historical connection. We honor the unique national and spiritual connection that the Jewish people and the Jewish nation have for the City of Jerusalem. We trust Israel to maintain the safety and freedom of worship for everyone throughout Jerusalem, and lastly, we believe that just as you cannot separate Christianity from its Jewish roots, you cannot separate Jerusalem from its Jewish history. It is an eternal, spiritual, and historical reality.”
I mentioned this earlier when I was prefacing the whole show, but one of these weird things that I’ve had within Christianity is this insistence — I’ve heard it preached through pulpits. I’ve read it on blog posts. I’ve seen it on social media posts about this insistence that Christianity support the nation-state of Israel.
If you’ve noticed the fact that I continue to say the word nation-state before Israel is because I think that we have gotten things, oftentimes, confused. I think, oftentimes, in Christianity, we see the Children of Israel, we see this kinship that we have towards the Children of Israel throughout scripture, and we say we must continue to protect the Children of Israel.
My issue has always come from the fact that I believe that we get mixed up when we begin to look at things through geo-political borders, and we mix them with spiritual truths that we have grown up with. Oftentimes, I see this throughout culture, and it’s something that I like to point out, usually in private with my wife later after I’ve had interactions with very enthusiastic Christians about things. There’s a statement that I continue say oftentimes is that I know the words that they are using but the way that they define those words are not the way that I define those words.
For example, off topic of Israel, oftentimes, people will begin to talk about the Good News of Christianity. It’s a buzzword within these circles. We talk about the Good News. We need to give people the Good News. What is the Good News that we are giving them? First and foremost is that they are going to hell. In my short life that I have had here, which I can say short life because it makes me feel better — Yes, in my almost 40 years of being on this planet, typically, good news is not prefaced with bad news. Oftentimes, when I hear Christians talk about the Good News, you’re all sinners and you’re destined for hell, but the Good News is, apparently, that we had a rageaholic god [sarcasm] that, somehow, Jesus came and lived a sinless life, and died in our place on the cross. People would say that’s the Gospel.
The Good News is the fact that we all suck, that God has anger issues [sarcasm], but, thankfully, Jesus came and died for all of us, and that’s really the Good News. Because the Good News is we get a “Get Out of Hell Free” card to be able to move forward. To me, starting out with calling people dirt and saying that they’re crap, and mentioning that God is good but, at the same time, he’s a rageaholic. That doesn’t sound, to me, like good news. Oftentimes, we throw around these terms where you may use them in one way. I may use them in a different way, but we end up using the same words.
I get into this argument a lot of times where I will say this, that I don’t necessarily believe the institutional church, the way the church exists now and probably has for a long while. People will say, “Oh, no, no. You’re supposed to. We have to believe in the church.” I think that the word “church” has gotten messed up too. The church is simply supposed to be a group of people that are believers that live life with a different ethic, that live life in a way that they are here to offer healing to those that hurt, that are here to offer wholeness for those that feel broken. Oftentimes when we see church, we see large buildings. We see money flowing in and out of different ministries and ways that do not seem to be about the teachings of Jesus. In that aspect, I feel like we get the words up.
In this aspect, when we were talking about Israel, I think we get the words mixed up. I think there’s a spiritual people of God that follow after God, and then, I think there’s a nation-state that we, somehow, give a free pass to simply because we like to claim we are a Christian nation.
This whole issue of the American church giving a blank check to Israel for whatever they do because we support them because this area that wasn’t established until — what was it? — until the late ‘40’s, that this area, somehow, holds a spiritual connection to us that we must, somehow, defend it blindly. Yes, I do understand that when we talk about Israel, we talk about Jerusalem, we talk about the summit of holy places for many different religions whether it be Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam. This ends up being a highly debated area. When begin to think about the politics of the Middle East, it gets even more and more dicey. I wanted to throw into this — really, I don’t have answers. I just have lots of questions.
There was a post that was done recently by Christy Thomas. She is the author of The Thoughtful Pastor. She was offering her thoughts on the way that Christians and Christianity hold onto Israel. I really like some of her words and I’ll read a few of them here.
She begins in her article by giving us a little bit of a historical context for all of this. When we begin to figure out what is our ties, especially, within the Christian faith to Israel, it comes from Genesis 12:1-3, and it says this. It says, “The Lord said to Abraham, leave your land, your family, and your father’s household, for the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse, and all the families on Earth will be blessed because of you.”
We begin to understand these roots come from the Old Testament, and we begin to understand this tie to the descendants of Abraham. She summarizes her article in this, and I’ll just read this verbatim. Her words are better than my words. It comes from the subtitle of “The Danger of Religious Mandates to Rule.”
She says, “As a person of faith it grieves me to write this, however, anytime some secular rule claims a religious mandate to the rule, that result will always be oppression coupled with evil actions towards those who do not fit that particular religious structure. It doesn’t matter whether the religious power is Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Orthodox, or any other faith community. The original Abrahamic covenant springs from the idea that God uniquely chose to bless Abraham. Then, Abraham along with his decedents passed that blessing on to everyone else. They are blessed to be a blessing. That part of the covenant must be honored.”
She, then, goes on to ask these questions. “So do I support Israel? Of course. Should the U.S.? Of course, Israel is a sovereign nation with rights to exist.” Then, she counters it with saying this, “But should that support mean a blind approval for systematic mistreatment of others? No, neither Israel nor any other nation gets a bye when it comes to the basic ethics and morality. No, neither Israel nor any other nation gets a bye when it comes to the basic ethics and morality.”
When I begin to think back just over my upbringing and being around just Christianity, I always had that question. Why? I had questions where the Children of Israel in the Bible, these spiritual children that followed after God, are they the same things as the nation-state that exists now, that is embroiled in a ton of nastiness? Nastiness is putting it very lightly when it comes to the whole Israeli, Palestinian conflict that continues on. My question for those of faith that begin to walk it out really comes in the fact of should we question a lot of these precepts that we’ve held onto? Should we question about these human rights violations that are happening? Does Israel deserve a blank check simply because I believe that we’ve misunderstood God’s blessing onto a group of people?
Those are questions. If you guys have other questions, if you have other comments, I would love to hear them, but as our time is running down, I want to move on to our final segment.
Lastly, I want to leave us in this show on somewhat of a higher note, on a higher note that I say in a way that I mean that I want something for us to aspire to, to aspire to be something better than where we are at right now. I want us to aspire to be a better country. I want us to aspire to be a better people and being a people that have values, that have principles, that have a guiding light for what we want to become, for where we want to go, and for what type of future we want to leave for our children.
On that note, especially, since yesterday was Martin Luther King Day, I want us to remember his sacrifice. I want us to remember his words. I want us to not just remember him as a great man who many sacrifices, who made many strides towards bringing equality to our nation, but he is a man that had a significant dream, a dream that was not a fantasy, but a dream that is something that we can strive towards, that we still need to strive towards, about a future that we want to have, a future that we need to have.
I’ll leave you with this. This is his speech, his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that was performed at Morehouse College a few years back with a myriad of voices from different backgrounds as seen in this beautiful mosaic, the dream that he had. I’ll leave you with that today because I think it’s a beautiful rendition, but I also think that Martin Luther King paints a beautiful picture of the future that we could have and the future that we should have.
There are many things that we are not happy with that are going on in the world today. I think that those things can lead us to be cynical and bitter. Those things can lead us to entrench ourselves, those things lead us to begin to not see the humanity in other people. In the events that have been going on recently, here and abroad, I think that we need to continue to dream about a better tomorrow. We need to continue to dream about a world that we want to see our children raised in, a future that isn’t driven by fear and hate but one where the love of each other is a driving force.
You’re listening to this show, and it’s called Snarky Faith, and more often than not, we’ll continue to push this idea that the ways and the teachings of Jesus lead us to supreme change, and those ways led Dr. King on a trajectory where he gave his whole self, his whole life to an idea that future can be better. Here’s that speech and I will let it close out the show. We will catch you again next week.
[Begin Audio Clip of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech read by multiple people
Female Voice 1: I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.
Male Voice 1: One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
Male Voice 2: In a sense, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Female Voice 2: It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vault of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
Male Voice 3: We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s people.
Female Voice 3: It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
Female Voice 4: But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
Male Voice 4: 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. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
Female Voice 5: And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.
Male Voice 5: We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Female Voice 6: I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
Male Voice 6: I say to you today, my friends. So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Female Voice 7: I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 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.
Female Voice 8: I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
Female Voice 9: This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
Female Voice 10: And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
Female Voice 11: And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, 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! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
[End Audio Clip]
[End Radio Show]
Transcribed by Miriam Delony