Dreams. They were on my mind as I left the theatre after watching seven-time Golden Globe winner La La Land and then on the drive home as I heard a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He had a dream. The stars of La La Land, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) also had dreams. Dr. King’s dream was for the nation; Sebastian and Mia’s dreams were for their careers. But their dramatically different dreams had a common thread – personal sacrifice.
Ironically, “personal” sacrifices are rarely personal – they nearly always have a ripple effect spilling over onto loved ones. A child’s dream to play high school or college sports involves a parent’s sacrifice of time and money. Climbing the corporate ladder requires late nights and missed family dinners. The dream of owning a small business comes at the sacrifice of stable incomes and often family savings. And becoming a successful actress involves years of dedicated hard work and support from family and friends. Emma Stone acknowledged this as she stepped to the microphone to accept her Golden Globe. The first words out of her mouth were, “Thank You, Mom.” She knew her success did not happen in isolation or solely as a result of her own efforts – it involved the sacrifice of loved ones.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also knew how his dream for equal rights for all people came with great sacrifice, not only for himself but for the cause and especially for those closest to him. His position and passion put him and his family continually in harm’s way – with a house bombing, constant death threats, and 30 arrests. His work had generational consequences as he paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life when he was assassinated at the young age of 39, leaving his young children to grow up without a father. I can’t imagine the daily fear his wife Coretta and four young children endured. But in the darkest times his devoted spouse displayed a strong faith with a deep conviction that his calling to lead this movement was a family calling by God. “I believe Martin was chosen, I believe I was chosen, and I say to the kids, this family was chosen as well,” Coretta Scott King said in her memoir, My Life, My Love, My Legacy.
And so as we remember the legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and those who blazed the trail before him, let us also remember the great sacrifices they endured and especially the impact on their loved ones.
I hope you too have a dream, but don’t ever forget the cost. Freedom is never free, and dreams usually aren’t either.
“I say to you today, my friends, though, 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, live out the meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’"
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – March on Washington Aug. 28, 1963